• “I want to be very honest and say we are not ready for the task ahead. I’d be lying if I said we are because we have only had a short time to prepare. I don’t know, but we shall try to do our best,” Firat said.
• However, the tactician extolled the players for burning the midnight oil in training to get to the heights they have scaled thus far.
Harambee Stars head coach Engin Firat has blatantly stated that his charges have not prepared well enough for the 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifiers that begin in a week.
The Turkish gaffer made the shocking, albeit, candid remarks during a press conference held at a Nairobi hotel on Monday afternoon.
Firat said that he only had eight months to prepare the team which was not enough to hoist the squad to the levels he desires.
“I want to be very honest and say we are not ready for the task ahead. I’d be lying if I said we are because we have only had a short time to prepare. I don’t know, but we shall try to do our best,” Firat said.
“We have gone for two years now without an official match. The reality is that I’ve had a very short time to build a team, roughly eight months from
March and I’ve strived to bring them up to my expectations and ensure they adapt to my coaching philosophy,” he said.
However, the tactician extolled the players for burning the midnight oil in training to get to the heights they have scaled thus far.
“But I’m happy we’ve made some big strides in assembling a competitive squad and all we can do now is to wait and see how things turn out in the qualifiers,” said Firat.
The gaffer lamented that the situation has been made dire by a string of injuries that has plagued squad members.
“Byrne Odhiambo is out, Collins Sichenje cannot make the squad owing to an injury and Daniel Anyembe is also out. Joseph Okumu suffered a knock in their league match and I’m still trying to reach Brian Mandela, who had an assignment with Mamelodi Sundowns in the African Football League final on Sunday,” Firat said.
“I’m also engaging with the doctors to see if Eric Ouma will be fit again while Ayub Timbe also has an injury. So, generally, we’ve had a tough week.
Firat said Kenya faces a big challenge in raising a new crop of players who can comfortably don the national team colors because they barelyy field teams in the other age category competitions.
“Usually, when young players join the senior national team, they are expected to have already acquired the right amount of experience and character that can make them cope well with the pressures of the big stage. “But I’m not one of the coaches who will cry when faced with such a situation. I have enough boys who can do an excellent job,” he added.
Meanwhile, Harambee Stars offensive midfielder Masud Juma said they are ready to put up a valiant fight in the qualifiers.
“Everyone is willing to give everything to ensure the team performs well. This is our moment and we are going to do all we can to meet the expectations of our fans,” he said. “We are not under pressure in any way.”