Harambee Stars coach confident Kenya will play 2026 World Cup

Harambee Stars coach confident Kenya will play 2026 World Cup

Harambee Stars’ head coach, Engin Firat, is now asserting that Kenya stands a genuine chance of securing a spot in the 2026 World Cup finals, scheduled to take place in the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

In an interview with Turkish news outlet Demirören News Agency, Firat emphasized that Kenya’s placement in a balanced group significantly enhances their prospects of participating in the global spectacle for the very first time.

He expressed his optimism about the nation’s future on this grand stage, stating, “I am very hopeful about the future. I think we have a high probability of going to the World Cup.”

Engin Firat during a training session with Harambee Stars players at the Nyayo National Stadium. [Photo/Courtesy].

Harambee Stars find themselves in Group F for the Africa World Cup qualifiers, accompanied by Ivory Coast, Gabon, Gambia, Burundi, and Seychelles.

Firat, at 53 years old, describes this grouping as “very balanced,” acknowledging the challenge posed by the 2015 African champions, Ivory Coast.

Nevertheless, he firmly believes that Kenya possesses the capability to garner points against any contender within the group, steering them toward their World Cup aspirations.

“While Ivory Coast seems to be the favorite, we’ve landed in a well-matched group. Everyone appears capable of defeating anyone. This situation is advantageous for us,” he further explained.

Ivory Coast when they last won the AFCON finals in 2015. Firat sees them as Group F favourites. [Photo/Courtesy].

The 2026 FIFA World Cup is scheduled to span June to July and will span 16 cities across Canada, Mexico, and the United States.

With an increased representation from Africa, featuring nine teams instead of the usual five, Kenya aspires to be among these chosen nations at the grand event.

Notably, the 23rd edition of the men’s FIFA World Cup, marketed as FIFA World Cup 26, will expand participation to 48 teams from the previous 32.

Argentina captain Lionel Messi hoists the FIFA World Cup trophy following their triumph in Qatar. [Photo/Courtesy].

Engin Firat’s reign as Harambee Stars head coach

Firat was initially appointed as the head coach of Harambee Stars in September 2021, stepping in for a two-month term following Jacob “Ghost” Mulee’s resignation.

During this period, he guided the team through three qualifying matches, resulting in defeats against Mali (5-0 away and 1-0 at home) and a 2-1 victory away against Rwanda. Despite the win, Kenya’s chances for advancement were already extinguished.

After his initial two-year contract concluded, coinciding with the disbandment of the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) by then Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed in November 2023, Firat packed his bags and left.

First was first appointed Harambee Stars head coach in September 2021 on a two-month contract. [Photo/Courtesy].

In February 2023, following the restoration of the FKF Secretariat and the lifting of FIFA’s ban, he was called back to helm the team.

This time, he was granted a three-year contract, and the 2026 World Cup qualifiers mark his official return as Harambee Stars’ head coach in his second tenure.

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