Harambee Stars coach Firat calls for character against Iran
What you need to know:
- Firat insisted that their goal in the match, which will be held at Azadi Stadium from 7pm East Africa Time is to learn and not victory
- The Kenyan contingent of 24 players, including striker Masud Juma, who passed a late fitness test will fly out on Sunday at 1.15am
- Having been Iran’s assistant coach between 2007 and 2008, the tactician said he understands the side so well that he has even shared with his boys how the Asian nation will play on Tuesday
After a one-week intensive training, Harambee Stars coach Engin Firat has said that the team is ready for its friendly match against Iran in Tehran on Tuesday.
But the Turk insisted that their goal in the match, which will be held at Azadi Stadium from 7pm East Africa Time is to learn and not victory.
With Iran being a common face in the Fifa World Cup and ranked 24th globally, Firat feels that Kenya, who are placed 101 stand no chance to beat them at their turf.
“One Iranian player has more market value than all our team (Harambee Stars) but still some people are talking about winning. I don’t know, which planet they are living on,” said Firat.
“The reason why I want this kind of a match is for the players to understand what it means to play at the top level, where we are and where we have to go. This is a match to learn, show character, be united as a team and try our best.”
The Kenyan contingent of 24 players, including striker Masud Juma, who passed a late fitness test will fly out on Sunday at 1.15am.
They are expected to land in Tehran the same day at 10am local time, and hold a light training session on Monday morning.
It will be the first time in several years that Kenya is facing a team, which is ranked top 30 in the Fifa standing.
In the last decade, Egypt has been the top most team that Kenya has faced.
During that time, the two teams locked-horns four times, their last encounter being on March 25, 2021 in Nairobi where they drew 1-1 in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
Egypt are currently placed 39th in the Fifa rankings.
Firat said for Stars to register positive results at the top level, it needs to constantly play against tougher opponents including top ranked teams from Europe.
Having been Iran’s assistant coach between 2007 and 2008, the tactician said he understands the side so well that he has even shared with his boys how the Asian nation will play on Tuesday.
“I worked for five years in Iran including the national team so I know them very well,” said the 52-year-old tactician.
“I even told the players how they will play (on Tuesday). I was surprised that even in the friendly match (against Russia on Thursday that ended 1-1), they were very aggressive, working very hard and played with all their top players. We will face a really top team and this is what I want.”
Regarding his decision to drop red-hot striker Benson Omala from the traveling squad, the Turk said being a top scorer is never a guarantee that one will make it to the national team.
He added that with some top players including striker Michael Olunga and Juma still in the team, it is difficult for the young players to make the cut.
But he noted that it is not the end of the road for them in their quest to don the national team colours as there will always be changes in the team and some of them will be called back while others will be part of the Under-20 and Under-23 sides.
“Look around the world, is it a guarantee that if you are a top scorer you will play in the national team?" posed Firat.
“Benson is unlucky because we have Juma, Michael Olunga so it is not easy for them to come in. This is why I said do not push these boys, let them develop.”
His decision to drop Omala elicited a lot of reactions since he is the Football Kenya Federation Premier League top scorer with 19 goals.
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