Put rolls out the plan as Black Stars date nears


Put rolls out the plan as Black Stars date nears
The national football Team Harambee Stars coach Belgian Paul Put talk to players during open media session at Utalii Grounds on November 30, 2017. Photo/Stafford Ondego/Sportpicha

In Summary

  • Harambee Stars head coach Paul Put has reiterated his dream of ensuring that Kenya qualifies for the 2019 Afcon showpiece set for Cameroon.
  • Plans are afoot to have the team play a couple of friendly matches despite the financial challenges.
  • Skipper Victor Wanyama is yet to work with the new coach but he knows the quality that the Tottenham midfield lynchpin offers.
  • After confronting the Black Stars of Ghana, the Stars will board the plane to Ethiopia to battle the Walya Antelopes on September 5.

Harambee Stars head coach Paul Put has reiterated his dream of ensuring that Kenya qualifies for the 2019 Afcon showpiece set for Cameroon.

Kenya began her quest for a ticket to the 2019 finals on a sluggish note falling 2-1 away to Sierra Leone last June but Putt is confident that Kenya can still weave their way and top group F that also has neighbours Ethiopia and Ghana.

At the same time, the Harambee Stars boss said that plans are afoot to have the team play a couple of friendly matches despite the financial challenges facing the federation due to the withdrawal of their main sponsor.

The Stars will lock horns with Ghana on March 23 in Nairobi in the first leg clash of the 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifiers and the Belgian hopes that the friendlies will do them some good.

 “We are trying to get two friendlies in March and two more in May outside the Fifa calendar. We are hoping the federation and the government will do everything possible for us to have these two games,” said the coach.

After confronting the Black Stars of Ghana, the Stars will board the plane to Ethiopia to battle the Walya Antelopes on September 5 and these two matches will give an indicator as to whether they will be among the 24 nations that will compete at the biennial competition in Cameroon.

The Belgian who took the reins of the team with a bang by winning the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup last December, however, maintains that the exit of the team sponsors should not cripple operations.

“The withdrawal of the team’s sponsor was a big blow and it’s not making things easy for the federation. I don’t know how the government will be coming on board. We prepare to face Ghana and for us to beat them we have to prepare like them – facing teams that are at the same level – as them,” he added.

The national football team Harambee Stars Belgian coach Paul Put (C), and assistant coaches John Kamau (L) and Stanley Okumbi during team's open media session at Utalii Grounds on November 30, 2017. Photo/Stafford Ondego/www.sportpicha.com

With the Kenyan Premier League new season having started last week, Put will also be a frequent visitor to the stadia to scout for more talent.

“I have an opportunity to watch the local players in their respective clubs now that the league has started. I will also be keeping a close eye on the international players and by March I will have an idea of who will be in my team,” he observed, adding that, “I have to balance the team with both local and international players – in this case we invite all of them and see who will be of great help but this will not be the final decision.”

Skipper Victor Wanyama is yet to work with the new coach but he knows the quality that the Tottenham midfield lynchpin offers.

“Wanyama brings leadership, discipline, and experience that he has shown at Tottenham and that’s what is needed when building a winning team,” he asserted.

Tottenham Hotspur's Kenyan midfielder Victor Wanyama (R) celebrates scoring the opening goal with Tottenham Hotspur's English striker Harry Kane during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at White Hart Lane in London, on May 14, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Ben STANSALL

Recently, Put emerged a top candidate for the vacant Guinea’s job after the West African nation parted ways with Kanfory Bangoura following a dismal performance at the Africa Nations Champions in Morocco, prompting fears that he could ditch the Stars.

But what are his long-term plans; will he be swayed by the monies? “I cannot say anything. I’m in Kenya at the moment. In coaching, if you don’t deliver you will be fired so I’m focusing on delivery,” he said, before quipping: “Everything is possible. In football, we have to be realistic but at the moment I am in Nairobi and I won’t mention anything about Guinea.”

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Story By John Kyanda
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