“It’s a 50-year problem’ - Firat takes swipe at Kenya for hosting home matches in Malawi

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“It’s a 50-year problem’ - Firat takes swipe at Kenya for hosting home matches in Malawi

Joel Omotto 05:00 - 23.05.2024

Harambee Stars coach Engin Firat has hit out at Kenya for neglecting sports infrastructure and having to face the shame of playing home matches in Malawi next month.

Harambee Stars coach Engin Firat ha termed Kenya’s lack of a CAF and FIFA-approved stadium a historical problem that is now biting the country hard.

Kenya will host Burundi and Ivory Coast in Malawi for their 2026 World Cup qualifiers as the country lacks a stadium that meets international standards with Kasarani and Nyayo stadiums, which still do not meet the criteria, currently under renovation.

It is a decision that has seen many Kenyans lament and while he admits the situation will rob his player of the necessary home support in the two matches next month, Firat says the country is paying the price for years of neglect not just in building stadiums but proper football infrastructure.

“From the first day I came here, I talked about infrastructure and I said; ‘Look if you don’t have it forget it.’ You think now if you have a stadium everything is solved? Nothing is solved,” Firat told the media on Wednesday.

“As long as we don’t have good fields for training, we [currently] don’t even have one international field for training. I tell the truth but nobody helps me out so now how different is the situation that we don’t have a stadium to play?

“We have the AFCON coming up but this problem stays here, it is not a problem for today or tomorrow, we have to build something for the future of the country.”

Firat reserved some praise for Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba, whom he lauded for showing a great effort to improve the state of sports infrastructure in the country, as well as being open to suggestions.

“Now, we have a Sports Minister who wants to change things, who comes with ideas. I have someone whom I can tell my problems and he listens and he looks for solutions,” added the Turkish coach.

“It is not possible to create new good players if you do not have the infrastructure. You cannot play well if you don’t have a good field. It is something I have been talking for one-and-a-half years.”

Firat then lamented how his players will greatly miss the support of the 12th man in the June 7 and 11 games set to be played at the Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe, saying it could have a bearing on the result.

“I wish my players played in front of the fans but why can’t we? This question don’t ask me, ask yourselves, everyone in Kenya,” said Firat.

“It is not something that happened now, what happened in the last 50 years? It is a mistake done in the last 50 years that we don’t have the infrastructure.

“We are disappointed because our fans are the real power when we need them. If the game is going 50-50, then the fans are the ones who push us but we have been missing this for one-and-a-half years.”

It will be the first time Kenya will be hosting their home matches in another country in a competitive fixture.

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