‘I am not a tourist, my mission is to take Kenya to World Cup’ – Firat on taking coaching role

The 51-year-old reveals why he took up the role of handling the national team on a short-term deal despite interest from Turkey

Harambee Stars coach Engin Firat has rubbished reports he is a “tourist” who took up the role of handling the team without a vision.

The 51-year-old Turkish tactician was unveiled on Sunday to lead the national team after the Football Kenya Federation had parted ways with coach Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee, who was only in charge of the team for 11 months.

Firat, who holds a Uefa Pro Coaching License and was most recently attached to the Moldova national team, signed a two-month contract to see Kenya through the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers and his deal could be extended if he takes the team to Qatar.

His appointment came just four days after the FKF had parted ways with Mulee, which left many stakeholders questioning why he had moved with speed to accept the job with others labelled him a “tourist” out to make money from the job.

What did Firat say?

“I am doing this job because I love this job, so I am not a tourist, I am here because when I talked to the President [Nick Mwendwa], he gave me a good view of what he wants and I felt it is a good challenge if we can work together and achieve the target we set,” Firat told Goal.

“I don’t see any difficulty to handle the team, it is a simple job for me and the main reason why I am here is, of course, to help the team reach Qatar, I want to take the team to the World Cup and I know it is not a difficult task.

Turkish tactician Engin Firat and Nick Mwendwa of FKF.

“It is not about money [why I signed to handle Kenya], if it was about money, then I could have signed elsewhere because I had several offers on the table including my home country Turkey, which I turned down.”

On why he decided to handle Kenya instead, of Turkey Firat said: “I decided to come to Kenya against handling Turkey because the FKF president has a good plan for Kenyan national team, so it was easy for me to choose my destination, so it was good for me to come here to do a good job.”

On why he took a short-term deal?

There has been some criticism with regards to the short-term nature of his contract, but Firat further explained how it suits both parties.

“I like the way the President [Mwendwa] is motivated and it is good and it is good for the coach because the boss likes football and I think after two months we will see the outcome and see the way forward, for the future for both of us,” he continued.

“I am very excited and motivated because I know Kenya is a football nation and I have checked what is in the team, I have analysed all the players and I believe there is a chance for the team to do well in remaining qualifying matches.

“I am very hopeful for this challenge and we decided to handle this campaign and then after we can talk if to extend the contract or not.”

He becomes the sixth coach under Mwendwa’s reign to lead the national team after Stanley Okumbi, Paul Put, Sebastien Migne, Francis Kimanzi, and Mulee.

The former Moldova coach’s first assignment will be the upcoming World Cup qualifier against Mali, away and home, on October 8, and October 12.

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