Pressure on Harambee Stars coach Engin Firat after loss to lowly Mauritius
Is Turkish coach Engin Firat the right man to Kenya towards football glory?
This question has arisen after the Harambee Stars poor show at the Four Nations Tournament which ended in Mauritius on June 18, 2023.
Mauritius, Djibouti and Pakistan were other the participants in the one-week tournament.
From arriving late to Mauritius, to scoring only one goal in a tournament against lowly ranked teams, football fans in Kenya are baying for Firat’s blood with others nicknaming him ‘Tourist Coach’.
Firat has a running three year contract to serve in his role after being unveiled as Stars coach on September 19, 2021.
He took over after Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee was fired due to a string of poor results in the 2023 African Cup of Nations Qualifiers and the 2022 Fifa World Cup Qualifiers.
The tactician began his reign when the national team was thumped 5-0 by Mali in the second round of 2022 World Cup Qualifiers Group ‘E’ on October 21, 2021.
With Firat in charge, Kenya went on to draw 1-1 against Uganda on November 11, 2021 before beating Rwanda 2-1 on November 15, 2021.
Kenya was then suspended by Fifa in February 2022 over government interference but upon the lifting of suspension in November the same year Firat, has been in-charge of three matches.
Harambee Stars lost 2-1 to Iran in a friendly game on March 28, 2023, and then won 1-0 against Pakistan on June 14, 2023, before losing by a solitary goal to Mauritius.
Overall under Firat’s reign, Kenya has managed two wins in six matches.
However, the win over Pakistan, a nation known for cricket and ranked position 195 out of a possible 200 teams on the Fifa rankings is not something convincing of a country with diehard football fans like Kenya.
On the other hand Kenya’s win against Rwanda doesn’t bring much prestige as the country is just putting up structures to improve their football.
Before taking up the Kenyan job, Firat was in charge of the Moldova national team where he drew twice and lost nine times, in the 11 matches he was in charge.
While being unveiled as Harambee Stars coach on September 19, 2021, Firat defended his poor record saying Moldova was not a football country compared to Kenya.
The coach has been blamed for being a tourist as he spends most of his time outside the country.
Firat’s assistant Ken Odhiambo and William Muluya who is Kariobangi Sharks coach are seen to be more well versed with players in the local league than Firat who is always out of the country.
Though it is the prerogative of Firat to name national team players, there have been claims there is a hidden hand in who makes the curt to the national team.
“The national team performance is a reflection of football standards which is due inept management and administration. The cluelessness of the coach and poor performance of the local players,” said Former FKF Secretary Lordvick Aduda.
“It is a shame to lose to low ranking countries. The win against Pakistan is nothing to write home about. The nonsense we are rebuilding is a hog wash,” added.