Harambee Stars coach reveals what Patrick Matasi and co must improve on, sends message to Gor Mahia keeper

Matasi has been Kenya's first choice goalkeeper in recent months.

Harambee Stars coach reveals what Patrick Matasi and co must improve on, sends message to Gor Mahia keeper

Mark Kinyanjui 14:05 - 24.05.2024

Harambee Stars coach explains what he expects of the goalkeepers he called up to the squad, such as Matasi and Munyasa, and further revealed why he did not call up Gor Mahia's Kevin Omondi.

Harambee Stars head coach Engin Firat has provided insights into his recent squad selections, explaining why Gor Mahia goalkeeper Kevin Omondi was not called up despite his impressive performance in the local season. 

Firat has opted for Patrick Matasi, Ian Otieno, Bryne Omondi, and Bonphas Munyasa as the goalkeepers for Kenya's 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches against Ivory Coast and Burundi.

Firat emphasized the competitive nature of the goalkeeper position, stating, "All our goalkeepers know that this is an open competition and there is no guarantee for anyone. Before, Byrne was playing and then Patrick took over, but it does not mean Patrick will play, there is no guarantee."

He also highlighted the potential of Bonphas Munyasa, saying, "Boniface is a very talented keeper. I spoke with him and told him what he needs to work on. 

“Physically he is brilliant, he has good reflexes but has to work on goalkeeping techniques, including high balls, balls from the side and needs to work hard on it if he wants to play."

Firat has been clear about his expectations from his experienced goalkeepers as well. "The first thing I did was to talk to Patrick. Even with his experience and everything, there are still things I expect him to do differently and he knows what I want. This is the only way to improve all of our players."

Regarding the exclusion of Kariobangi Sharks' forward John Mark Makwatta, who has been in stellar form with 13 goals since January, Firat explained his decision-making process, also sending Omondi and other aspiring international players a clear message.

"I do not close the door on anyone. The door is open for anyone who can play for us. It is, however, my decision on whether I am ready to take him aboard my team or not. 

“We cannot rely on players who are playing well for a certain duration of time. We are talking about international level players."

Firat pointed to the example of John Avire, who was called up in March after a long observation period. 

"I followed John for a year before I decided to call him up. It is not so simple. I have to decide. If it is a very young player, it is easier as I can follow them, tell them what to do and what to work on, and follow them through the age groups, for example, under 20, under 21s, whatever.

"But if he is 23, 24 and above, then I expect them to do things and implement them quickly."

Engin Firat's meticulous approach to player selection reflects his commitment to building a strong and competitive team for Kenya's World Cup qualifying campaign. 

His focus on continuous improvement and readiness at the international level underscores the high standards he sets for the Harambee Stars.

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