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Football

Kenya coach Firat confident of better showing against Mali

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Harambee Stars head coach Engin Firat says he is confident his team will perform better on Sunday afternoon when they take on Mali in the second leg of their 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier Group E match at the Nyayo National Stadium.

Stars suffered an embarrassing 5-0 thrashing at the hands of the West Africans in the first leg on Thursday and they will be out to save face in the return tie at Nyayo.

The Turkish tactician says they have analysed their mistakes in the first leg and are ready to do better.

“I want to apologise to the people for the loss in Morocco. It was a tough start but on the other side, I got good lessons. The things I didn’t know, now I know but in a hard way. It is no excuse but I don’t do mistakes twice,” said the tactician.

He hopes he can make better decisions on Sunday when he leads out Stars for the return tie which will be crucial in as far as the World Cup campaign is concerned.

“We had a few days together and we have tried to analyze and see what we did wrong. We have put that defeat behind our backs and look forward to the next game. We can’t change everything but we have to go in with a positive attitude. We did one bad job but it cannot determine everything,” Firat further stated.

Stars will see their hopes of making it into the World Cup diminished if they lose again to Mali and the coach is optimistic of victory.

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Captain Michael Olunga has also rallied the team to rise up and do better in the return leg.

“It is a very crucial match for us and we cannot afford to lose. If we lose then our World Cup hopes are over. As a team we were also pained by the result in the first leg and we will work hard to ensure we do better,”

“We just ask for support from everyone and as players we will step on the pitch and do better. We want to win because three matches we still have an opportunity to fight for a place in the World Cup,” he said.

Meanwhile, Firat has come out fuming at the criticism he has received since the heavy loss in his first match in charge.

The Turkish coach has accepted responsibility for the horrible performance, but has gone on to defend himself against those who think he is not good enough.

“You can criticize me, but don’t question my pride and loyalty. I am not young anymore. I have coached many countries and I don’t need anyone to tell me whether I am good or not. I have my self confidence,” the tactician fumed.

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He added; “Some people want to make dirty news and the public listens to them. All the time they are talking about my record with Moldova. You want to judge me by just one job?”

“You had foreign coaches before. Where did they coach in Europe? Youth Teams? Reserve teams? And You want to compare me with them? Criticise what I am doing here but stay away from manipulating the public. I show respect and I also want people to show me respect,” added the tactician.

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