Harambee Stars head coach Engin Firat has urged Kenyans to be patient and support the team as they build towards success. Speaking ahead of the upcoming friendly match against Iran on March 28, Firat asked for time to try out different players and formations in order to build a strong team.
Firat warned against false hopes, saying that positive results should not be expected immediately. He emphasized the need for a long-term plan to establish a formidable squad, and lamented the lack of top matches for the national team and the poor state of sports infrastructure in the country.
Firat said that he had checked the history of Kenyan football and found that the national team had never played against any top team from Europe. He said that this was a sad reality, and that he would aim to have the team face at least one top European team next year.
In order to achieve his goal of leading Harambee Stars to positive outcomes at major tournaments, Firat said that he was keen to establish strong under-20 and under-23 sides, which would then feed the senior team with top players.
Regarding the Iran match, Firat said that the objective was to “learn”, since Iran is ranked 24th globally and is a common face in the FIFA World Cup. He said that he wanted to put pressure on the players early so that they could learn, and that it was not about results at this stage.
Firat has named a 30-man provisional squad for the Iran match, which includes both local and foreign-based players. Among the players named are Gor Mahia striker Benson Omala and Al Duhail forward Michael Olunga, who started reporting to camp on March 18.
Patrick Matasi (Police FC), Ian Otieno (Zesco, Zambia), Bryne Odhiambo (KCB), Levin Opiyo (AFC Leopards)
Joseph Okumu (Gent, Belgium), Brian Mandela (South Africa), Johnstone Omurwa (Estrela, Portugal), Eric Ouma (AIK, Sweden), Andrew Juma (Bandari), David Ochieng (Mathare United), Maurice Owino (KCB), Collins Shichenje (AIK, Sweden), Mohamed Siraj (Bandari), Daniel Anyembe (Viborg, Denmark), Daniel Sakari (Tusker), Abud Omar (Kenya Police)
Amos Nondi (Ararat, Armenia), Richard Odada (Philadelphia Union, USA), Teddy Akumu (Sagan Tosu, Japan), Alpha Onyango (Gor Mahia), Joseph Mwangi (Nzoia Sugar), Kenneth Muguna (Azam, Tanzania), Abdallah Hasan (Bandari), Duke Abuya (Kenya Police), Wilkims Ochieng (FC Koper, Slovenia), Moses Mudavadi (KK Homeboyz), Alvin Mang’eni (Kenya Police), Hasan Beja (Nzoia Sugar), Victor Omune (AFC Leopards)
Benson Omalla (Gor Mahia), Elvis Rupia (Kenya Police), Michael Olunga (Al Duhail, Qatar), Masud Juma (Difaâ Hassani El Jadidi, Morocco), Alfred Scriven (IL Hødd, Norway)