Harambee Stars coach Ken Odhiambo explains how Firat has boosted players' confidence

Engin Firat (L) with assistants William Muluya (C) and Ken Odhiambo (R)

FOOTBALL Harambee Stars coach Ken Odhiambo explains how Firat has boosted players' confidence

Mark Kinyanjui 09:32 - 03.01.2024

Odhiambo hinted Kenya can go into any match confident following their performances in the games they took part in in 2023, admitting he was stressed before they played Iran in March.

Harambee Stars assistant coach Ken Odhiambo has admitted he had sleepless nights in the days leading up to the side’s game against Iran back in March.

Stars took part in their first-ever match since the year-long suspension imposed on the country by FIFA was lifted, but lost 2-1 having taken the lead initially.

People had expected the side to be beaten comprehensively, but losing 2-1 was seen as a step in the right direction considering it was the first time in a long time Kenya was exposed to such a level.

Speaking alongside head coach Engin Firat on Radio Jambo, Odhiambo revealed he was stressed before the match, thinking the side would have been walloped by a side that had played at the FIFA World Cup just three months earlier.

“What came into my mind was, ‘Iran?’, a few months ago, they were in the World Cup,” Odhiambo said.

“I was like, how? I looked at him (Engin Firat) twice and I was like ‘We have been out for the last 500 days’, is it possible?

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“I could not even sleep that night, I was turning and all I could see that night was just Iran, one of the players, his value is more than the whole Kenyan team combined, I was like, how are we able to compete.”

Odhiambo has heaped praise on Firat for his confidence, saying that he could not even fear playing against big teams like  Brazil and Argentina

“One thing about the coach, he is so confident, he is not even afraid of Brazil, Argentina, bring them and he will take them on.”

Firat was quick to second Odhiambo’s comments.

The Turkish head coach, who was at the helm of Moldova before taking charge of Kenya and also had stints working with Iran, Fenerbache, and 2022 Europa League champions Eintracht Frankfurt, has revealed how he instilled confidence into the Harambee Stars players after the game, which led to impressive results against Qatar and Russia later that year.

“We talked with Ken and I told him ‘Ken, I played against France when they were actual world champions. I played Italy, the actual European champions, I am not afraid of anyone!

“I have been so long in this business, I played in the AFC Champions League, and European Champions League, I am not one of these previous coaches you had. I have so much self-confidence in my life.

“If other people are coming up with lies and manipulations, they cannot affect me, I only laugh about it and this self confidence I have, I try to give it to the players.”