COSAFA Engin Firat reveals why he will not lead Kenya in COSAFA tournament

Kenya head coach Engin Firat has revealed why he will not be in the dugout when Harambee Stars participate in the 23rd edition of the COSAFA Cup from June 26 to July 7 in South Africa.

Kenya will feature in the tournament as a guest team after they landed a late invite to replace Malawi, who pulled out at the eleventh hour following the sudden demise of their vice-president, Saulos Chilima. He died at the age of 51 after a military aircraft he was flying in crashed in a forest in the north of the country.

With Kenya accepting the invite, assistant coach Ken Odhiambo named a provisional squad for the tournament with the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) confirming he would take charge of the team assisted by William Muluya.

Speaking for the first time on the decision not to handle the side, the 54-year-Turkish tactician, while admitting he will be in South Africa to watch the matches, said he had passed over the button to Odhiambo and Muluya to help them get experience and learn how to handle pressure.

“I will be there to watch from outside, the reason is very simple, it is our U23 not the national team, and therefore, we have to have trust with our technical staff and this means Ken (Odhiambo) and William (Muluya) will take charge of the team and we need to prepare them to work under pressure,” Firat said as quoted by People Sports.

“But I will go there to watch the boys and prepare from outside, I know that in other countries like Zambia, the coach will not be there and so on, but he will come to South Africa, and most national team coaches will not be there because it will be B national teams or younger national teams playing, how you take it, so it quite normal that I will not be on the bench.”

Firat added: “I think Ken (Odhiambo) and Muluya should get the experience to develop themselves by making decisions, I will be there if they want any help from me during the tournament, they can still ask me questions.”

Asked why Kenya had settled to send the U23 and not the senior team, Firat said: “The invitation came in last minute because Malawi didn’t participate, therefore, it was how we handle it, and the main idea we don’t have most of the players, because they are on holiday and not training, and these not being FIFA day it means no need for any club to send any player to these tournament so it was clear for us to use the U23.

“It was a chance to give U23 a chance, I don’t know the last time they played, like an Olympic team, and maximum added three experienced players, we had a lot of boys coming directly to the national team, and I think it was a good opportunity to push them to the highest level, let them also show their talent against teams which are on similar age, and similar experience because also the other teams for example Zimbabwe has a squad of young players.”

Kenya, who will be making their second COSAFA Cup appearance having debuted in 2013 when they went out in the pool stages, have been pooled in Group B alongside Zambia, Comoros, and Zimbabwe.

They will kick off their campaign against Zambia on June 27, 2024, at the NMB Stadium. They will then face Comoros on June 30, 2024, at the Wolfson Stadium, and conclude their group matches with their match against Zimbabwe on July 2, 2024, also at the Wolfson Stadium.

Dennis Mabuka

Dennis Mabuka is a seasoned Kenyan journalist with 18 years of experience covering sports events. He is currently a sport content creator with

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