'We are on the right way' - Firat analyses Harambee Stars' chances of qualifying for maiden World Cup in 2026

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'We are on the right way' - Firat analyses Harambee Stars' chances of qualifying for maiden World Cup in 2026

Mark Kinyanjui 15:39 - 25.05.2024

Harambee Stars coach Engin Firat analyses Kenya's chances in group F, where they sit third after two matches played ahead of monumental Burundi and Ivory Coast assignments.

Harambee Stars head coach Engin Firat believes his side are making good progress towards making history by qualifying for its first ever World Cup in 2026 amidst the challenges that have engulfed him since he took charge of the nation.

Stars are set to face Burundi and Ivory Coast in Malawi on June 7 and 11 respectively, given the country lacks stadia that meet international standards to host qualifying matches.

Kasarani Stadium is closed for renovations, while Nyayo National Stadium failed to meet certain requirements to be approved for use.

Speaking to the media in a press conference held earlier this week, Firat revealed that he was pleased with the progress his side are making since resuming international duty in March 2023.

“I see how the team is developing which is the most important thing, I am a firm believer that only modern, good football brings you results in the long term. At this point, we are on the right way,” Firat said.

Firat has analysed Group F, which consists of Burundi, Ivory Coast, Seychelles, Gabon and The Gambia.

Kenya have already played Gabon and Seychelles, losing to The Panthers 2-1 in the first match away, but making up for it with a 5-0 win over Seychelles last November.

Firat has categorically dismissed Seychelles, who lost 9-0 to Ivory Coast and then to the Kenyans.

“Ivory Coast are the favorites and they have a fantastic team. There is Seychelles who (respectfully) have no chance, which is the reality.

“The other teams are almost similar in quality and anyone can beat each other. You saw Burundi beat Gambia easily, which has a good team at home.”

Firat believes it will not be easy for reigning Africa Cup of Nations holders Ivory Coast to sail through even though they are favorites, considering all teams barring Seychelles have the capability to take the game to them.

“I believe Ivory Coast will not go through easily. If they go to away matches, you will see why home matches are important. 

“If Ivory Coast were coming to Nairobi and they played in front of 60,000 fans, it would not be easy for them. But if they play just in front of 200 people, it will not have an effect on them.”

Given Kenya will not be backed by a huge home support in Malawi, Firat has explained the only other way Kenya can sail past Ivory Coast.

“We will do our best. We will be prepared. You need luck in these kinds of matches because if you play against teams that have so much experience at that level. If we get good results in these June World Cup qualifiers, then we have one more year before the next round of games.

“I am very sure that we will be at a much better level in a year than we are now. We will fight till the last day to get good results.”

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