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Mwendwa’s gamble with Stars rolls on, ropes in German-Turk

FOOTBALL By Washington Onyango | September 20th 2021
New Harambee Stars Coach Engin Firat at a press conference in Nairobi. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Football Kenya Federation (FKF) has appointed German-Turkish journeyman Engin Firat as the new Harambee Stars head coach for a period of two months.

The position fell vacant after Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee left in what FKF said was “ a mutual agreement” to part ways.

Mulee had just led Kenya in two 2022 World Cup qualifiers against Uganda and Rwanda, where they registered two points from a 0-0 draw at home and a 1-1 draw in Kigali, respectively, in early September.

Firat’s big task will be to help Kenya find a first 2022 World Cup qualifying win after draws against Uganda and Rwanda in the opening two games.

However, will the seventh Harambee Stars coach in the last five year be the answer to the national team’s problems?

The answer is yes according to FKF President Nick Mwendwa.

“Firat has the experience to handle the team since he is a top coach. We believe he is the right coach at a time when Kenya are competing for a World Cup ticket, and as you know, we stand second in the group and we have a clear chance to compete well in this group,” said Mwendwa.

According to statistics, Firat is undoubtedly an experienced coach, having worked with 18 teams, both clubs and national sides since he started his career in 1997.

Among the high profile sides he has worked with are Eintracht Frankfurt of Germany between 2000 and 2002 and Fenerbahce of Turkey, where he worked as an assistant manager between 2002 and 2003.

New Harambee Stars Coach Engin Firat and FkF President Nick Mwendwa at a press conference in Nairobi. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

However, his recent records of accomplishment will worry any football fan across the world.

With a rating of 0% with the Moldova national team Firat resigned early this year after two years in charge. He took charge of 11 matches, losing nine and drawing two. Moldova is at position 175 in the latest Fifa rankings while Kenya is placed 102nd.

Furthermore, eyes will be on the German-Turk as to whether he will work without Kenya’s high-profile stars like Victor Wanyama, Johanna Omollo, and Ayub Timbe, who were dropped by Mulee.

Mulee started a restructuring process at the national team that saw the likes of Lawrence Juma, Kenneth Muguna, Abdallah Hassan, Richard Odada and Daniel Sakari become an integral part of the national team set up.

Whether Firat will continue with the culture of relying on some of the local stars is a question that will only be answered in time.

Firat is the latest foreigner to take charge after Sebastien Migne, who left his position in 2019 when Kenya were defeated by Tanzania in the African Nations Championship (Chan) qualification. Initially, Migne had guided Kenya to the 2019 African Cup of Nations tournament in Egypt. The other foreign coach to have worked under Mwendwa is Paul Put.

Firat’s first competitive assignment will be the World Cup qualifiers against Mali in October.

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