Blame on FKF for Stars’ fall to Mali, says Muhiddin


Blame on FKF for Stars' fall to Mali, says Muhiddin
Bandari FC coach Twahir Muhiddin drinks water during their Kenyan Premier League match against Gor Mahia FC at the Mbaraki stadium in Mombasa county on April 28, 2016. Gor Mahia FC won the match 2-0. Photo/Stafford Ondego/Sportpicha.

In Summary

  • Muhiddin was specific that Firat’s wrong positioning of some players underlined the curse of untimely hiring and firing of coaches by FKF.
  • He however believes Kenya can regroup and smother Mali’s ruthlessness at home, during Sunday’s return match.

The humiliation Harambee Stars was subjected to on Thursday by Mali is a result of Football Kenya Federation’s (FKF) decision to hire new coach Engin Firat only three weeks to the crucial World Cup qualifier, veteran coach Twahir Muhiddin has said.

Mali thumped Kenya 5-0, and Muhiddin, who was fired last month alongside Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee and goalkeepers’ trainer Haggai Azande says it evident the coach has a lot to learn about the team.

And in his own words, Firat said he did “not know what really happened,” adding weight to Muhhidin’s observation.

“The changes were made by the federation, and changes have consequences. They can bring the desired effect and they can also backfire. Essentially the decision has backfired, I know that from my experience. We however pray for the best in the return match, a win or draw at least, considering that Uganda won (beat Rwanda 0-1),” said the former Bandari FC coach, now the club’s Technical Director.

Muhiddin was specific that Firat’s wrong positioning of some players underlined the curse of untimely hiring and firing of coaches by FKF.

“Joash played on the right as a wing-back, instead of his usual centre-back role. He had a lot of challenges because in that position you need speed going forward to support the attacking unit, as opposed to his central back position where you just need to learn the opponents’ attackers and how to counter them. Henry Mejja (of Tusker) is a centre-forward but the coach (Firat) played him on the right flank. But, we cannot blame him because he did not have enough time with the team. There was no international friendly to help him know the players, so he had to learn their capabilities during the match.”

He however believes Kenya can regroup and smother Mali’s ruthlessness at home, during Sunday’s return match at the Nyayo National Stadium – Nairobi.

“They need to adopt a cautious approach. I know Mali will sit back because a point will be okay with a superior difference, as even if Uganda wins, Mali will still be on top. We can fight and do something. We need to be defensive and do break attacks because we have players that can do that,” noted the soft-spoken coach, adding Stars need to avoid conceding within opening 20 minutes to gather stability in the Sunday tie.
This is the second time the current FKF regime has changed coaches in the middle of qualifiers. On October 20 last year, Harambee Stars head coach Francis Kimanzi who had replaced Frenchman Sebastien Migne was fired, the federation announcing he had left on mutual consent.

Kimanzi was dismissed alongside his assistant Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno, just weeks before Kenya played Comoros in 2022 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers double header.

Poignantly, Kimanzi had not lost in his two matches for the campaign, having drawn Egypt away (1-1) and Togo at home (1-1) before beating Zambia 2-1 in the build up to the Comoros matches.

A few days later FKF President Nick Mwendwa announced that the federation had picked Mulee, who barely 11 months together with Muhiddin Azande were shown the door to pave way for Firat.

Amusingly, Firat is on a two-month contract!

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Story By Festus Lango
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