NOC-K secretary general Francis Mutuku hopes Kenya could qualify for men's football at the Olympics for the first time at Los Angeles 2028 ©Getty Images

National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) secretary general Francis Mutuku has claimed being named co-hosts for the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) could help the country qualify for the Olympic men's football tournament for the first time at Los Angeles 2028.

Kenya was awarded the 2027 edition of the AFCON with its neighbours Tanzania and Uganda earlier this week, with the tournament set to take place in June and July just over one year before the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics.

Kenya has not qualified for the AFCON since the 2019 edition in Egypt, missing out on the opportunity to qualify for next year's tournament in Ivory Coast because its suspension by FIFA was only lifted in November 2022.

Mutuku believes staging the AFCON could drive an improvement in Kenyan football and improve its men's under-23 team's prospects of Los Angeles 2028 qualification.

"One critical aspect that seldom spoken about is the sport development aspect involving players," he wrote for Kenya's Daily Nation.

"Philosophies on the subject place the potential of stimulating sport development as one of the main objectives of hosting major sports events.

"Sport development is about enabling structures and opportunities for involvement and excelling in sport.

"From the NOC-K standpoint, the best outcome we can get as a country is the national team qualifying for the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics."

Kenya was awarded the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations along with Uganda and Tanzania earlier this week ©Getty Images
Kenya was awarded the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations along with Uganda and Tanzania earlier this week ©Getty Images

He suggested Kenya could implement "a strategy to develop an Olympic team alongside preparing the AFCON team".

Kenya are 109th in the men's FIFA world rankings, placing them 25th among the African nations.

The AFCON is a biennial competition serving as the main continental tournament for men's national teams.

Morocco was also awarded hosting rights for 2025 on Wednesday (September 27) by the Confederation of African Football, after Guinea was stripped of the event due to concerns over preparations.

Men's football at the Olympics pre-dates the FIFA World Cup which started in Uruguay in 1930, but has faced an increasing battle for relevance.

Since Barcelona 1992, only under-23 players have been permitted to compete, with three older exceptions allowed from Atlanta 1996.

Three African teams can qualify for the Olympics under the current qualifying system used for Paris 2024 through the Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations, with the potential of a fourth in a playoff against an Asian side.