Harambee Stars: Firat reveals how Kenya plans to neutralise Ivory Coast & Burundi’s threats

Engin Firat leads a past Harambee Stars training session Photo || Timothy Olobulu

Harambee Stars: Firat reveals how Kenya plans to neutralise Ivory Coast & Burundi’s threats

Joel Omotto 16:58 - 22.05.2024

Harambee Stars coach Engin Firat has described how he plans to tackle the different challenges that will be presented by Ivory Coast and Burundi in the World Cup qualifiers.

Harambee Stars coach Engin Firat has hinted that he might have to go with different sets of players in each of the two upcoming 2026 World Cup qualifiers in June.

Harambee Stars will host both Burundi and Ivory Coast in Malawi on June 7 and 11 respectively at the Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe and the tactician admits both matches presents different challenges that will need varied strategies.

Firat says African champions Ivory Coast have more quality and will test his team to the limit hence the need to stay solid while Burundi will likely play a more defensive game that will require players who can unlock them.

“I need to find out how I can use the strength of my players against their little weaknesses and how to stop what they have,” said Firat during a media briefing on Wednesday.

“The game plan is different between Ivory Coast and Burundi because Ivory Coast will play open and we need to be prepared for it while Burundi will stay deeper and play on transition, counterattack and with a big fighting spirit.

“So, we face teams which have different strengths. Ivory Coast has more individual quality compared to Burundi but in Burundi, we face a very quick team on transition and very aggressive against the ball and the rival.

“Two totally different game plans for me so we have to find a way to prepare and we will try our best to be ready for both of them and looks like both games we will have different players on the field.”

Harambee Stars were counting on home support to help them gain maximum points from both matches but will have to do without it in light of Kenya’s inability to have a CAF and FIFA-approved stadium.

Kenya are third in Group F with three points from two matches, same as Burundi, with the Ivorians top on six points, a similar tally with Gabon, while the Gambia, who will now be handled by ex-Gor Mahia coach Johnathan McKinstry, and Seychelles are yet to record a point.

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