This comes after Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee resigned from the post he had held for 11 months a few days ago
The Football Kenya Federation has appointed Turkish tactician Engin Firat as the new Harambee Stars’ head coach.
Confirming the appointment at a Nairobi hotel on Sunday, FKF president Nick Mwendwa explained why they settled on the 51-year-old tactician.
“I am bringing the 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,” Mwendwa told reporters.
“Firat has the experience to handle the team since he is a top coach.”
Meanwhile, Gor Mahia legend Jerim Onyango has been appointed the goalkeepers’ coach, replacing Haggai Azande, who left alongside Mulee.
Firat’s big task will be to help Kenya find a first 2022 World Cup qualifying win after the draws against Uganda and Rwanda in the opening two games. Kenyans will also be keen to see whether the Turkish will incorporate high-profile stars like Victor Wanyama, Ayub Timbe, Jesse Were, and Johanna Omollo, who were overlooked by Mulee.
Mulee started a restructuring process at the national team that saw the likes of Lawrence Juma, Kenneth Muguna, Abdallah Hassan, and Daniel Sakari become an integral part of the national team set up.
Although the stars were regularly summoned for stellar performances with their local sides, they never disappointed while turning out for Harambee Stars as they showed top-level performances, individually.
Whether Firat will continue with the culture of relying on some of the local stars, especially the Juma-Muguna midfield axis, is a question that will only be answered by 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, where they picked up a win in a group that had Senegal and Algeria – the eventual finalists – and neighbours Tanzania.
The other foreign coach to have worked under Nick Mwendwa is Paul Put, who took the team from Stanley Okumbi and led them to the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup in Machakos in 2017. Given the two foreigners left a mark on the national side, that puts Firat under pressure to try and achieve bigger things with Kenya.
Firat has worked with 18 teams, both clubs and national outfits, and Eintracht Frankfurt of Germany and Fenerbahce of Turkey – where he worked as an assistant manager between 2002 and 2003 – are the high-profile jobs he has handled.
His first competitive assignment will be the World Cup qualifiers against Mali in October.