In the lead-up to the highly anticipated international friendly against Russia, Kenya’s national football team, Harambee Stars, finds itself amidst challenges and controversies.
Coach Engin Firat has been under scrutiny for his team selection, notably omitting talented players like Gor Mahia striker Benson Omala, who has been in stellar form recently.
Omala’s exclusion sparked controversy, fueled further by claims from his father, suggesting jealousy from a senior player in the squad as the cause behind his son’s absence.
Firat, undeterred by the criticism, defended his choices, emphasizing that squad changes are made based on current form and team requirements.
“The door is open for every player in Kenya (to play in the national team),” said Firat.
“In the last two matches, Elvis Rupia was playing in the starting 11 and he was a goal-getter number one in Kenya. He made a transfer to Tanzania and now he is not with us,” said Firat
Despite the off-field challenges, Harambee Stars have been diligently preparing for the game in a training camp in Turkey.
The players are eager to showcase their talent on the international stage and secure a positive result against a formidable opponent like Russia.
This international friendly serves as a crucial opportunity for Kenya to assess its strengths and weaknesses before the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, commencing in November 2023.
The team’s recent friendly results, including a surprising 2-1 victory against Qatar in Doha followed by an unexpected 1-0 loss to South Sudan at home, underline the unpredictable nature of football and the need for continuous improvement.