Harambee Stars players savour top class facilities in Paris ahead of AFCON

By Gilbert Wandera: Sunday, June 16th 2019 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Football
Harambee Stars training ground in Paris, France which the Kenyan team has been using as residential camp ahead of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final in Egypt. [Courtesy]

By setting up their training camp in France, the national team Harambee Stars has joined the league of top African teams used to sound preparation ahead of major tournaments.

The team is on the last leg of a three-week training camp at the headquarters of the Rugby Football Federation (RFF) in Marcoussis, an exclusive Paris suburb, ahead of the up-coming Africa Cup of Nations finals in Egypt.

With the team used to poor preparations and training in sub-standard facilities, it is a big difference and one that the players hope will help improve their performance.

At the team’s disposal are ten world class pitches, a state-of-the-art gymnasium, swimming pool and a medical centre to ease the recovery of the players. The players can also use the sauna and steam bath.

For most players, it is a dream they would not want to wake up from and believe this is how they ought to be treated ahead of major tournaments.

Ethiopia-based goalkeeper Patrick Matasi says training at the facility has given the team the required concentration needed to perform at a higher level.

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“It has everything here and so we do not have to move anywhere. It is a quiet place that allows us to concentrate exclusively on football.”

Matasi also pointed out that the exclusion has enabled them bond as a team and build on team work.

“It is rare to be together for this long and the camp has allowed us to do just that. It has helped us build cohesion. When were told about the camp, we were all anxious to see what kind of facilities they have and it has not disappointed. Just training here has raised our motivation levels to an all time high,” he said.

Matasi challenged authorities back home to build such a facility so that as many players as possible can have access to the same.

“In future, we should have such facilities at home so that we can train on it before major tournaments.”

Gor Mahia defender Philemon Otieno termed it an eye opener for him as a player.

“It is an awesome experience being here and we have had opportunity to concentrate on nothing but playing football. Most of the time we assemble for utmost five days ahead of major tournaments but this is different.

“We have had time to gel and understand the philosophy of the coach giving us an opportunity to build something good ahead of the tournament,” he said.

Otieno said the good playing surfaces enables them to build a good tempo in training.

“We are unable to play good football at home sometimes because of bad surfaces. We can and should improve our game by building such kind of facilities.”

Former Kariobangi Sharks striker Masoud Juma termed it a perfect environment to prepare for a major tournament.

“We are excited to be here, the Portuguese national team was also here and they went ahead to win the Euro Cup two years ago. We hope that fact can motivate us to do well in the Africa Cup of Nations finals,” he said.

Masoud said being together for a long time has also helped build chemistry between players, which he believes will help them get good results in Egypt.

“We are not just a group, we have become brothers and when something goes wrong, we are our brother’s keeper and we can push each other to perform. Football is not all about talent but the ability to work together which we have achieved in this camp.”

Greece based Aboud Omar said the ability to be together for long in such a serene environment is sure to bring good results while team captain Victor Wanyama says it should be maintained.

“It is a fantastic facility and the high numbers of pitches means we can train many times a day without any restrictions. It is the kind of preparation you need for such kind of tournaments and this must be the norm rather than the exception.

“Furthermore, the government also needs to invest and build facilities back home. They can do in co-operation with Football Kenya Federation (FKF) as we have seen here in France. It is time to get used to such high level training.”

Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president Nick Mwendwa said by enabling the team in such a facility, they have fulfilled one of the promises they had made to give Stars high level training.

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