Newly appointed Harambee Stars head coach Paul Put is confident Harambee Stars can make to the 2019 African Cup of Nations (Afcon), despite starting the qualifiers on a shaky path-a loss.
Stars were beaten 2-1 away to Sierra Leone under the tutelage of Stanley Okumbi, and have an even tougher assignment against Ghana’s Black Stars in March .
Put, who will be deputised by Okumbi among ‘others’ in the previous technical bench, says Kenya has quality players to navigate its way for a place in the biennial continental tournament which has eluded them since 2004.
“If I’m not confident it’s possible should I take the job? The team has lost just a match and there is a chance to make amends.
“With the class of Wanyama (Victor) and co,we have the right quality and we get the best out of them we can make it, Insha-Allah,” enthused the Belgian .
Put said that his desire is to leave an indelibale mark in Kenyan football by the time he calls it a day,noting the job starts “right away”.
“I’ve been to many countries other than Belgium; Gambia, Jordan, Burkina Faso and Algeria. I pride in what I achieved with each of the teams I managed, and I want a good record in Kenya.
“I know it’s long since Kenya appeared in Afcon and if we do it will be a big one for Kenyans. We can do it with support from all quarters,” said the Belgian.
Besides Ghana and Sierra Leone, Put’s charges will have Ethiopia to overcome in the group E Afcon qualifiers.
On the forthcoming Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup, Put wants to use the tournament to know the local players.
“Of course I would like to win, a coach will always go for a win. I will however be keen to see what the local players offer because we may not get most of the foreign based ones.
“It will be at home and everyone knows the importance of winning at home, and the pain of losing at home in equal measure,” Put offered.
Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president Nick Mwendwa backed Put to succeed with the team, saying he’s one of the most qualified coach Kenya has ever had.
“We had said we wanted to restructure and strengthen the technical bench, and now we have Put who we believe will take the team to the next level.
” Of course he will be assisted by Stanley (Okumbi) and a section of others in the previous bench. From the discussions we have held with him he has a lot to offer that we didn’t foresee. He has our full support,” Mwendwa said.
The last foreign coach to handle Harambee Stars was Scot Bobby Williamson, who was replaced by Okumbi just after Mwendwa’s administration took over.