•Stars' loss has piled pressure on the Kenyan team who will now have to win their remaining matches to reignite their hopes.
•Firat attributed Kenya’s loss in the opening encounter against Gabon to a long list of injuries that have plagued the team in recent weeks.
Harambee Stars head coach, Engin Firat, has urged his charges to punch above their weight when they tackle Seychelles in their next Group ‘F’ 2026 World Cup qualifier.
Kenya squandered a first-half lead to crash 2-1 to Gabon at the Stade de Renovation in Franceville on Thursday. The loss has piled pressure on the Kenyan team who will now have to win their remaining matches to reignite their hopes.
Despite starting strongly in the first half, Harambee Stars fizzled out by the minute to hand an undue edge to the hosts who leveraged all the loopholes in the match to carry the day.
Masoud Juma’s 40th-minute header fired Kenya into the lead before Dennis Bounga drew the hosts level with a rasping close-range effort. Guelor Kanga then condemned the Kenyan lads to defeat with a splendid stoppage-time strike.
However, Firat is convinced that the Stars can bounce back emphatically in their next match against Seychelles on Monday. “We are going to Seychelles to win, there is no question about that,” Firat said.
“We need enough points to proceed to the next level. We need to try as much as we can to collect all the points we can from our matches,” he added.
Firat attributed Kenya’s loss in the opening encounter against Gabon to a long list of injuries that have plagued the team in recent weeks. Kenya missed the services of Joseph Okumu (Reims, France), Eric ‘Marcelo’ Ouma (AIK, Sweden), and Daniel Anyembe (Viborg, Denmark).
“Considering the number of players who were missing, I cannot blame the boys. It was not our day,” Firat said. “The last 10 days we’ve been very unlucky and being beaten after taking the lead is very disappointing,” he added.
Firat, nonetheless, reckons they have gleaned invaluable lessons to step up their campaign.
“But this doesn’t change our mind for the future, so we have to focus on the next match. I hope we shall be having our full squad in our next match. “There will be many matches in our group and we’ll see what happens once we are through with them.”
Harambee Stars are already in Cote d’Ivoire, where they will face Seychelles at Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium in Abidjan on Monday.