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Engin Firat jets back to start second Harambee Stars tenure

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Harambee Stars coach Engin Firat arrives back in Kenya
  • Firat was appointed as the head coach in September 2021
  • His short-term contract ended after the 2022 World Cup qualifiers
  • He comes back on a two-year contract

Turkish trainer Engin Firat has returned to the country to start his second stint as the national men’s football team, Harambee Stars, head coach.

Firat was first appointed to the seat in September 2021 after H=Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee was fired and was tasked with finishing up Kenya’s remaining matches for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

He left shortly after the last match against Rwanda, with Kenya then slapped with a suspension by world governing body FIFA for government interference.

He returned this week, with Kenya set to play back to back friendly matches against Burundi on March 25 and 28 at the Moi Sports Centre Kasarani.

“We needed to have continuity and that is why we decided to have Firat back. He had started a project and we were pleased with what he had planned to do with the national team and instead of looking for a new coach, we saw it wise to recall him,” Football Kenya Federation Chief Executive Officer Barry Otieno said in a past interview.

Firat previously in charge of four matches

Outgoing Harambee

Outgoing Harambee Stars coach Engin Firat

The Turkish coach who previously coached Moldova started his tenure on a poor note, leading the side to a 5-0 humbling at the hands of Mali. The team later lost to the West Africans 1-0 at home.

He then travelled with the team to Uganda for the penultimate World Cup qualifier, drawing 1-1 with Uganda equalizing in the last minute. He picked his first win in the final dead rubber qualifier against Rwanda at home with goals from Michael Olunga and Richard Odada.

He now comes back, hoping to prove his worth with more matches.

With Kenya out of the qualifiers for the AFCON 2023 due to the suspension slapped on the country in early 2022, the tactician has two friendly matches to start off his second tenure.

Kenya was to play Burundi in the same group of the AFCON qualifiers and with the Eastern Africa neighbors uninvolved in the FIFA friendly window, a deal was struck between the two countries for a friendly match.

Difficult to get friendly matches 

Harambee Stars coach Engin Firat

Harambee Stars coach Engin Firat

“It was difficult to get countries to play against because most will be playing in the AFCON qualifiers. This was the best option for us and we are hoping for a good game,” Otieno, the FKF CEO Said.

Firat will have a huge task of rebuilding a team which has not had international fixtures for almost 18 months. The tie against Rwanda in November 2021 was Kenya’s last international match.

The team will also not play any competitive matches at least late this year when the qualifiers for the 2024 Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) are staged.

The tactician is also tasked with building a team for the future, with the Ministry of Sports keen on seeing Kenya qualify for the 2026 World Cup in the USA, as well as the next Africa Cup of Nations in 2025.

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