Harambee Stars to play two friendlies against Burundi next month
Harambee Stars are expected to play Burundi national football team in two friendly matches next month.
According to Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Secretary General, Barry Otieno, Turkish coach Engin Firat is expected to lead Stars in the two matches.
Mr Otieno said the friendlies will be a positive development for the country two months after world football governing body Fifa lifted a ban that had been imposed on Kenya early last year over government interference.
“(Kenyan) Football is coming back from a very difficult period. We have missed big opportunities for both men and women. These friendlies are the first step in rebuilding the team and getting us ready for competitive international football,” said Otieno.
The first friendly will be played on March 25 in Nairobi and the second one three days later in Bujumbura. Harambee Stars players are expected to go to camp on March 17 to start preparing for the two matches.
Firat on the other hand is optimistic that the friendlies will develop the team for major competitions in future.
“It is important to keep the team engaged, to keep working so that we are able to play at a good level when we return,” said the Turkish coach.
Otieno in an earlier interview with a local media clarified that Firat has not been given a new contract but his earlier two months contract was renewed to 2026.
“You don’t give contract on duration but projects. Since we were not in 2023 Afcon and failed to qualify for the last World Cup why would we give him a two-year contract yet there was no major competitions to gauge him?” posed Otieno.
He also clarified that Firat impressed in the World Cup qualifiers in 2021 in matches pitting Kenya against Rwanda and Togo and that is why his contract with eyes on the 2025 Afcon.
The last time Harambee Stars played an international match was against Rwanda on October 12, 2021 in the World Cup 2022 qualifiers. Kenya finished third in the group which had Mali, Uganda and Rwanda.
However, Firat was forced to exit after the former Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed disbanded the federation in November 11, 2021. This lead to the Fifa ban on February 24, 2022.
On November 28 last year, Fifa lifted the suspension on Kenya after the new Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba reinstated the federation National Executive Committee.