Fuming  Engin Firat blasts officiating after Harambee Stars stalemate with Burundi


Fuming Engin Firat blasts officiating after Harambee Stars stalemate with Burundi

Festus Chuma 08:00 - 08.06.2024

Kenya dropped two crucial points in a World Cup qualifier with the coach criticizing refereeing standards after a contentious draw.

Harambee Stars head coach Engin Firat has slammed the referees following a contentious 1-1 draw with Burundi in their 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Group F match at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe, Malawi.

The match on Friday saw the Kenyan national team struggle against a tightly packed Burundi side managing only to secure a single point in a game marred by what Firat described as questionable refereeing decisions.

In a fiery post-match reaction, Firat expressed his dissatisfaction with the overall level of officiating.

"The first 15 minutes we didn't start like I wanted. Afterward, we started our passing game and got our goal chances. So, I cannot say that I'm happy with the referee because they did everything to stop the game. Every ball, every free kick against us, every set piece, took two or three minutes to restart," he lamented.

Firat highlighted the referees' apparent lack of urgency and consistency, which he believes significantly disrupted the flow of the game and prevented his team from maintaining any tempo.

"It was not possible to maintain any tempo in this game. In the second half, we pushed more. We scored in the end, but we should have scored earlier. It's a problem if you don't score the second goal because this kind of crazy goal can happen," he added.

Despite the frustration with the referees, Firat commended his players for their performance under challenging conditions.

"I'm not unhappy with the way we played, especially if people knew the conditions we faced and what happened in these days. So, therefore, I'm happy with the way the boys played, but not with the result," he stated.

With this draw, Kenya remains in third place in Group F, tied with Burundi, each team having accumulated four points. Ivory Coast leads the group with seven points after their recent victory over Gabon, who are second on the table.

Firat acknowledged the challenges ahead but remained optimistic about the team's chances.

"So many things can happen. And like I said before, in our group, okay, Ivory Coast is the favorite. And I don't think Seychelles has any chance. But all the other teams, I think, are on a similar level. Therefore, it will be an open game until the last minute," he concluded.

Kenya will face group leaders Ivory Coast next Tuesday at the same venue in what is expected to be a tough game as they continue their quest for a spot in the World Cup.

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