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Harambee Stars coach Engin Firat claims media ‘pushing’ for Omala call-up

By Cecil Odongo October 17th, 2023 2 min read

Harambee Stars coach Engin Firat has appeared to accuse sections of the media for ‘pushing’ for Gor Mahia forward Benson Omala’s inclusion to the national team.

Firat, a Turkish national, made the claim after overseeing his team’s impressive two-all draw versus Russia in an international friendly at the Titatic Sports Complex in his home country on October 17, 2023.

Without mentioning Omala directly, Firat , while praising youngster Rooney Onyango for his impressive show in this contest, suggested, in his post-match comments, that the Gor Mahia defender had shown his potential ‘without being pushed by the media’.

“Like I said, if somebody is working well and deserves to play, then he will play,” said Firat.

“This is what happened with Rooney, he is not somebody who is being pushed by the media or other people. He is only concentrating on football, he is a player with good potential, and he is ready to work on it, therefore I’m happy we have won one more player,” added Firat.

Rooney, a right-sided defender, made his national team debut against Russia and impressed alongside Amos Nondi.

Kenya meanwhile secured the result thanks to goals from Anthony Akumu and Masoud Juma and a good range of goalkeeping from veteran Patrick Matasi.

Russia, which competed in this match despite serving a ban from international football by Fifa, replied through Aleksandrz Sobolev and Ivan Oblyakov.

The ban was imposed for political reasons after it was deemed Russia had invaded Ukraine.
It thus remains unclear if the result from this match will be factored in the monthly Fifa rankings where

Russia are currently ranked 59th on the Fifa rankings, 52 positions above Kenya.

Meanwhile, the decision to drop Omala, the current Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Premier League League top scorer with six goals after six matches has brought about mixed reactions both in the mainstream media and online.

Omala, 22, has however vowed to focus on his career with Gor Mahia and respecting the decision of the national team coach while bidding time and waiting for his chance.

Peter Oluoch, the player’s father, had in an earlier interview with Nairobi News, attributed his son’s absence from the national team to ‘jealousy’ from a number of senior players.

Nairobi News could not independently verify these claims.

Firat has in the past year preferred Michael Olunga, Masoud Juma, Elvis Rupia and Moses Shummah in the striking roles, ahead of Omala.

Kenya has lost to Iran and South Sudan and beaten Qatar in her previous friendlies.

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