• “When I looked up Kenya’s football history, I discovered that it has never faced off against a European team. We need to organise a friendly game with a team from Europe this year,” he said.
• Given the dubious history of the Harambee Stars, Firat questioned how anyone could speak so confidently about their chances of qualifying for the World Cup and the Afcon.
Harambee Stars head coach Engin Firat has challenged Football Kenya Federation to start organising friendly matches against European nations to bring the country to the desired competitive standards.
Firat made the remarks while fielding questions from journalists who sought to know why Kenya had chosen to pick Iran for an international friendly match that has been set for Tehran on March 28.
“Iran has a higher ranking than a country like Egypt. Kenya hasn’t faced formidable opponents in ten years of international friendlies. Friendly matches were scheduled against weak opposition that the nation could easily defeat because Harambee Stars has always been under pressure to produce results,” Firat said.
“There is one drawback to playing weak teams because the players never learn how to handle the pressure against stronger teams in the qualifiers and it becomes very difficult to win games.”
Firat promised to arrange a friendly matchup between Harambee Stars and a respectable European team to give them the necessary edge to succeed on the international stage.
“When I looked up Kenya’s football history, I discovered that it has never faced off against a European team. We need to organise a friendly game with a team from Europe this year,” he said.
The Turkish gaffer said he was tired of hiding his head in the sand and felt a pressing need to speak his mind.
“Why is it so difficult for people to discuss reality? I’m not searching for justifications. There isn’t any more time for me to sell dreams,” Firat pointed out.
Building a successful team, according to the tactician, will take time because a coach needs to first identify the ideal players with personalities that mesh well together before deciding on the best system to help them succeed.
“In actuality, Kenya has only participated in the Africa Cup of Nations twice in the past 41 years. I was shocked to learn that Kenya failed to advance past the group stage on both occasions,” he pointed out.
“Only Gor Mahia was successful at the club level in the 1980s. All of our national teams, including the women’s and youth squads, haven’t competed in the Olympics or World Cup.”
Given the dubious history of the Harambee Stars, Firat questioned how anyone could speak so confidently about their chances of qualifying for the World Cup and the Afcon.
“Since my last visit, the situation in Kenyan football, particularly about infrastructure, has gotten progressively worse. Local clubs are struggling financially after the Fifa ban, and many of these issues are still not very fit because the league started late," Firat stated.
He urged all parties involved to stop playing pointless blame games and start looking for solutions to Kenya’s poor performance.
“Another significant issue in this nation is the widespread finger-pointing. For us to come up with workable solutions to our persistent problems, we must be willing to cooperate and face reality.”