Harambee Stars legend slams coach Engin Firat ahead of crucial Ivory Coast clash

Harambee Stars legend slams coach Engin Firat ahead of crucial Ivory Coast clash

Festus Chuma 17:00 - 09.06.2024

The former Kenya international has criticized coach's strategy and player selection errors ahead of critical World Cup qualifier against Ivory Coast.

Harambee Stars legend Elijah Onsika has openly criticized coach Engin Firat's handling of the team, particularly regarding player selection issues during the crucial 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Burundi.

The match, which ended in a disappointing 1-1 draw at the Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe, Malawi, has sparked controversy due to administrative mishaps that led to two players who have dual citizenship being sidelined.

Onsika, a former Kenyan international, expressed his dismay over the exclusion of Zak Vyner and Tobias Knost from the lineup.

“How do you call up players to the national team without confirming their eligibility or checking their injury status? It's ludicrous, especially when the stakes are as high as qualifying for the World Cup,” Onsika expressed in frustration as per Standard.

The former defender argued that the oversight showed a lack of preparation and awareness from Firat’s side, which ultimately cost the team valuable points.

With Kenya set to face a formidable Ivory Coast team, which has maintained a perfect start in Group F by securing nine points from three games, the pressure is mounting.

The Ivorians, who are riding high after their 2023 Africa Cup of Nations victory, pose a significant threat to Kenya's qualifying hopes.

A win for Ivory Coast in the upcoming match would severely dampen Kenya's prospects of advancing.

Onsika ’s critique extends beyond mere selection issues as it touches on the broader strategy and vision for the national team.

“We have capable players in the FKF Premier League who are match-fit and ready. If Firat had trusted these local players against what was a manageable Burundian team, we could have secured six points by now,” he remarked.

Reflecting on past encounters Kenya and Ivory Coast have clashed only once before, with the Ivorians claiming a 1-0 victory in a friendly back in December 1991.

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