Harambee Stars head coach Engin Firat wins prestigious award in Turkey


FOOTBALL Harambee Stars head coach Engin Firat wins prestigious award in Turkey

Festus Chuma 16:06 - 21.12.2023

Harambee Stars' head coach has received international recognition for remarkable 2023 achievements.

Harambee Stars head coach Engin Fırat has been honored with the prestigious award of the Best Turkish Coach Abroad 2023.

The 53-year-old gaffer clinched this remarkable achievement during the illustrious Istanbul ATA Club Award Ceremony held in Turkey.

Fırat's meteoric rise to prominence in 2023 has been nothing short of spectacular, marked by a series of awe-inspiring away performances and some victories by Harambee Stars against formidable opponents, including Iran, Qatar, and Russia.

The Istanbul ATA Club Award Ceremony also saw Galatasaray, a prominent Turkish football club, clinch the "Team of the Year Award," while Vincenzo Montella was bestowed with the "Coach of the Year in Türkiye Award."

Engin Fırat, who assumed the role of Harambee Stars coach on September 19, 2021, initially signed a three-month contract.

His appointment followed the dismissal of Jacob 'Ghost' Mulee due to a string of disappointing results in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers and the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

Fırat's journey as the national team's tactician began with a challenging 5-0 loss to Mali in the second round of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers Group 'E' on October 21, 2021.

However, under his guidance, Kenya showed resilience, securing a 1-1 draw against Uganda on November 11, 2021, followed by a triumphant 2-1 victory over Rwanda on November 15, 2021.

Kenya's football journey hit a roadblock when FIFA suspended the national team in February 2022 due to government interference.

Nevertheless, upon the lifting of the suspension in November of the same year, Fırat resumed his role as head coach and led the team through a series of thrilling encounters.

Harambee Stars tasted defeat against Iran with a score of 2-1 on March 28, 2023, but rebounded with a resounding 1-0 victory over Pakistan on June 14.

The team encountered ups and downs, with a solitary goal loss to Mauritius and a thrilling 2-1 triumph against Qatar. They also faced South Sudan and managed a 2-2 draw against Russia in friendly matches.

In the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, Kenya demonstrated its newfound vigor by overpowering Seychelles with a resounding 5-0 victory, following a narrow 2-1 loss to Gabon in the opening Group F game.

Under Engin Fırat's guidance, Kenya has achieved three wins out of 12 matches.

Despite the mixed results, Fırat remains steadfast in his commitment to developing Kenyan football.

When unveiled as Harambee Stars coach in 2021, he defended his record by emphasizing the difference in footballing culture between Moldova and Kenya.

While critics have accused him of being absent from the country, his focus on nurturing a promising future for Kenyan football continues to shape the team's evolution. 

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