Firat reiterates his long-term Harambee Stars goal, Olunga calls for patience

Friday, June 9th, 2023 17:08 | By
Harambee Stars goalkeeepers in a training session. PHOTO/FKF/TWITTER.
Harambee Stars goalkeeepers in a training session. PHOTO/FKF/TWITTER.

Harambee Stars head coach Engin Firat has reiterated his long-term ambition of developing a competitive national team.

Since taking over, the Turkish tactician has emphasized the need to look into the future and not be moved by short-term goals.

Firat thinking of Harambee Stars' future

"I am not thinking about today, I am thinking about the future, and I am not thinking of the World Cup qualifiers, as we also have the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, and I think I have to concentrate on some group," Firat told the press.

"This is one group, of players who are at the top of their levels and who can play, and now it is their moment.

Harambee Stars Head Coach Engin Firat. PHOTO/FKF/Youtube
Harambee Stars Head Coach Engin Firat. PHOTO/FKF/Youtube

"There are a lot of players who are under 23, and we have CECAFA towards the end of November, therefore, the players can get international experience. At the moment, we need them, and they need to be ready.

"Our program is long-term, so we are focusing on players whom we know we will have in the future," he added.

Firat is preparing to lead Kenya in a four-nation tournament set for Mauritius starting this Sunday.

"We want to help the players get to the level at which we want them to be in the future, and a tournament like this is a chance for me to see on the field if they are able when under stress," he added.

"This tournament is a chance for them, and I think they will take it.

Michael Olunga optimistic of Harambee Stars

On his part, striker Michael Olunga is optimistic that Harambee Stars can be a very competitive squad if patience is exercised while the coach builds the team.

The current squad has four new faces: Simon Masaka (Sofapaka), Kevin Luke Otiala (Kariobangi Sharks), Charles Ouma (Kenya Police), and Moses Shummah (Kakamega Homeboyz) are those that received their maiden call-ups.

"It is a fairly new squad, and it takes time at the national level; it is not a one-day project. You have to build something, and this requires a lot of patience," he said.

"As the captain, I feel we have potential, we have seen great players coming from Kenya since we have played in big matches and competitions.

"We have the potential and what it takes just with good preparations, and now that the stand-off between the FKF and the government is over, this is a new chapter that we are looking forward to.

"It is always a pleasure to be back, and it is an honour to represent Kenya at this level, and now the tournament is a different assignment.

"We want to use it as a build-up and preparation for the World Cup and AFCON qualifiers that are going to start at the end of the year.

Harambee Stars players line-up in past match. PHOTO/FKF/You Tube
Harambee Stars players line-up in a past match. PHOTO/FKF/YouTube

"It is a fairly new squad with a lot of fresh faces in the team, and I think it is a good way and an opportunity for the players who have been playing well, especially in the local league, to get a feel for international level.

"It is going to be a good blend, and hopefully we are going to post good performances," he explained.

Harambee Stars vs Iran

The first game for Kenya – after FIFA lifted the suspension – was against Iran, and Olunga believes it was a good chance for them to learn.

"Of course, against Iran, it was a high-level friendly against opponents who were just in the World Cup, and it was a fantastic game that we played.

"We learned lessons, and we were good for the better part of the game. At the international level, you cannot afford to lose concentration, especially at the last minute," the Qatar Stars League Golden Boot winner added.

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