Harambee Stars’ head coach, Engin Firat, forthrightly declared the team’s insufficient preparedness for the imminent 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifiers set to commence in a week.
This revelation transpired during a press conference hosted at a Nairobi hotel on a Monday afternoon, where the Turkish coach candidly expressed the constraints of an eight-month preparation period, deeming it inadequate to elevate the squad to his envisioned standards.In his own words, Firat confessed, “I want to be very honest and say we are not ready for the task ahead.
I’d be lying if I said we are because we have only had a short time to prepare. I don’t know, but we shall try to do our best.” The team has endured a two-year hiatus from official matches, and the coach, having had a brief window starting from March, exerted considerable effort to mold the team according to his coaching philosophy.
Despite the challenges, Firat commended the players for their tireless commitment to training, acknowledging significant progress in crafting a competitive squad. However, the coach bemoaned the dire situation exacerbated by a spate of injuries affecting key members of the squad. Notable absentees include Byrne Odhiambo, Collins Sichenje, and Daniel Anyembe. Joseph Okumu suffered a knock in a recent league match, and Firat faced challenges reaching Brian Mandela, engaged in an assignment with Mamelodi Sundowns in the African Football League final.
Engaging with medical professionals, Firat expressed concerns about the fitness of Eric Ouma and Ayub Timbe. The cumulative effect has resulted in a challenging week for the team. Firat underscored Kenya’s struggle in nurturing new talent, attributing the difficulty to the scant participation in age category competitions. While acknowledging the expectations placed on young players joining the senior national team, he remained resolute, stating, “I’m not one of the coaches who will cry when faced with such a situation. I have enough boys who can do an excellent job.”Meanwhile, Harambee Stars’ offensive midfielder, Masud Juma, conveyed the team’s readiness to face the challenges head-on in the qualifiers.
He asserted, “Everyone is willing to give everything to ensure the team performs well. This is our moment, and we are going to do all we can to meet the expectations of our fans. We are not under pressure in any way.”