Harambee Stars head coach Engin Firat has been named the most successful Turkish coach abroad.
According to IHA News, the 53-year-old Firat scooped the top honours during the Istanbul ATA Club Award ceremony held in Istanbul on Wednesday. Firat’s remarkable success since taking over Harambee Stars role were cited as part of the reasons he was crowned the best for 2023.
“At the Istanbul ATA Club Award Ceremony, Engin (Fırat), as the coach of the Kenya national team, received recognition as the most successful Turkish coach overseas,” read part of the statement on the Turkish website, adding: “Leading Kenya, a nation known for athleticism but not football, Fırat elevated the country onto the international football stage.
“His remarkable achievements, particularly away performances and results against formidable teams like Iran, Qatar, and Russia, have garnered global recognition. Against all odds and without any players in a top team, Fırat successfully transformed Kenya into a team with a promising future.”
Firat, who graduated from Sports University in Germany before he started his professional career as an assistant coach for German manager Horst Hrubesch at Samsunspor in 1997, was appointed to lead Kenya on September 19, 2021, following the exit of Jacob “Ghost” Mulee. His first major assignment saw him handle Kenya in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers against Mali, away and home, on October 8, and October 12, 2021, respectively. Kenya lost the home fixture 1-0 and the away fixture 5-0.
He then forced a 1-1 draw against Uganda in the same qualifier before registering his first victory – 2-1 – against Rwanda in Kigali. He could not get a chance to take charge of the team in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers as Kenya were disqualified from their group after the world governing body (FIFA) handed the East African nation an indefinite ban citing government interference.
On return from the FIFA ban, Kenya played an international friendly against Iran which they lost 2-1, and then travelled to Mauritius where they featured in a Four Nations tournament, winning the opener 1-0 against Pakistan and losing 1-0 against Mauritius.
The team then played against World Cup hosts Qatar and won 2-1 but returned home to suffer a shock a 1-0 defeat against South Sudan. Kenya then played Russia and settled for a 2-2 draw before kicking off their World Cup qualifiers with a 2-1 defeat against Gabon away and then thrashed Seychelles 5-0 in their second qualifier.
Firat’s next match for Kenya will be against Burundi in the World Cup qualifiers on June 3.