Engin Firat explains Harambee Stars squad selection policies

FOOTBALL Engin Firat explains Harambee Stars squad selection policies

Mark Kinyanjui 05:00 - 24.05.2023
Firat explains how he picks the squad for Harambee Stars.

Harambee Stars head coach Engin Firat has explained how he selects his squad and his plan for the national team moving forward with the long-term aim being to make the team competitive ahead of the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament.

The Turkish-Cypriot was appointed head coach on a permanent basis earlier this year after the ban on Kenyan football was lifted by FIFA. 

Firat took charge of his first fixture since his permanent appointment against Iran in their 2-1 away friendly loss back in March but left out Benson Omala for the squad that traveled to Iran.

Speaking to Citizen TV, Firat explained how he selects his squad after fans expressed their anger at the forward being left out of that squad.

“A player can be very good in the Kenyan League, but it does not mean he is good enough to represent the country at the international level. I have to be fair to all players because this is the only way to build a base for all players that are needed,” Firat said.

“Even (Kariobangi Sharks coach) William (Muluya) who is my assistant coach has no effect on my selections. I listen to everyone, but the last decision was made by me.

“You can be a talented player, but not helping the team at the national level. For example, you can be a goal-getter in this country. Derrick Otanga left the country to go to Libya after doing well for KCB but came back.

“Eric Kapaito is gone to Ethiopia but struggling. Being in the national team does not mean you can help the national team. It does not work like this. What is most important is the need for international level.”

“I use Wyscout to get data about players who are playing outside the country and when they play in the national team, as well as videos which enables me to know everything that is going on,” Firhat said.

“Of course it was not easy for me to follow up what is going on in the league but when I came back, I was able to conduct more research.”

Scribes, journalists, and fans had been raising questions about why Firat was not in the country, with common headlines asking “Where is Firat” but the Turkish coach quashed those claims, accusing people of “not being present” as he seeks talent in the lower leagues.

“I am going to academies, I am going to Wajir, I am going to the second division. I go there while others don't. I will not go to the big derbies (alone).

“It is important for me and my staff to find more talent. For example, in 2021, we played Uganda and Rwanda. There was one player named Timothy (Noor) Ouma. I invited him. As a result, he was able to go to Sweden (for Elfsborg).

“I allowed him to settle at that club, which is why I did not call him up recently, but now he is playing in the Swedish top flight. This is the only way we can go on. I wanted to take the risk with this boy and show all the boys in Kenya that everybody can get a chance. The door is open for everyone who has the ability and capacity to play for the national team.”

Kenya will take part in a four nations series against Djibouti, Mauritius and Pakistan in Mauritius in June as Firat attempts to build a squad to take part in future tournaments.