Firat faces selection dilemma as he prepares to name Harambee Stars' provisional squad for 2026 World Cup qualifiers

Firat faces selection dilemma as he prepares to name Harambee Stars' provisional squad for 2026 World Cup qualifiers

Festus Chuma 18:24 - 17.05.2024

Harambee Stars coach faces squad selection challenges due to injuries and lack of playtime as Kenya prepares for World Cup qualifiers in June.

Harambee Stars coach Engin Firat is set to announce his provisional squad this Saturday for the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Burundi and Ivory Coast. 

The Turkish coach faces significant challenges with several key players sidelined by injuries or lacking game time adding complexity to the selection process.

Kenya will face Burundi on June 7 and Ivory Coast on June 11, both matches scheduled at the Bingu National Stadium in Malawi. 

The final 27-member squad will be revealed before the team's departure to Malawi on June 1.

“The team will start training this weekend and our trip to Malawi will be on June 1st. We want to accord the team the support they require to perform. We know playing away from home is always not easy, but we didn’t have an option to solve the situation; for now, we can only work with what we have,” said FKF President Nick Mwendwa in an interview with Flashscore.

Firat has been out of the country for several weeks, visiting Kenyan players abroad to assess their readiness for the qualifiers. However, he remained tight-lipped about the specifics of his trip and the players he visited.

The Harambee Stars' squad selection is complicated by the absence of key players.

Defender Joseph Okumu and left-back Eric 'Marcelo' Ouma are both injured, while midfielder Collins Sichenje and defender Johnstone Omurwa are not getting adequate playtime in Sweden and Portugal, respectively. 

Additionally, striker Masoud Juma, forward Jonah Ayunga, and midfielder Teddy Akumu are also injured, with Dennis Ng'ang'a just returning from a long-term injury.

Despite these setbacks, the Kenyan team remains a formidable competitor in their World Cup qualifying group. 

After a 2-1 defeat to Gabon last November, the Harambee Stars bounced back with a resounding 5-0 victory over Seychelles. 

The standings in Group F are still competitive, with both Côte d'Ivoire and Gabon leading the group with six points each, followed closely by Kenya and Burundi with three points each.

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