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Headline: Former Kenyan international and Harambee Stars coach James Nandwa calls for Firat's sacking

Former Kenyan international and Harambee Stars coach James Nandwa calls for the sacking of current head coach Engin Firat. Nandwa criticizes Firat's inconsistent record, poor team selection, and handling of the squad, especially after disappointing results in recent World Cup qualifiers.

Shina Oludare
Shina Oludare

Last Updated: 2024-06-17

Louis Hobbs

5 minutes read

Calls to sack Harambee Stars head coach Engin Firat continue to grow louder after former Kenyan international James Nandwa joined the bandwagon of stakeholders advocating for the dismissal of the Turkish tactician. 

The performance Stars put in the past two 2026 World Cup qualifiers against Burundi and Ivory Coast divided opinion over the future of Firat as the national head coach. 

His sentiments over a number of issues including: state of infrastructure in the country, criticizing players openly, demeaning local competitions and his bloated ego seem not to go well with Kenyans.

Social media was abuzz following the 1-1 draw against the lowly-ranked and CECAFA neighbours Burundi last week with fans openly pleading with Football Kenya Federation to relieve Firat of his duties. 

Articles questioning the suitability of the tactician in leading the team have been written and aired with those expressing support for Firat also getting justice in the press as well.

Firat's record and inconsistencies enough to get him out of team
 

James Nandwa, a former national team head coach, feels that Firat's record, inability to win over Burundi and get the best out of the current squad are sufficient grounds to get rid of Firat. 

The former Moldova national team coach has taken charge in 16 matches, both competitive and friendlies, since his appointment in September 2021, when he replaced Jacob 'Ghost' Mulee. 

Out of the 16 matches, four of which are friendlies, Stars have won six, lost a similar number of matches and drawn four times.

Under Firat, the team has been largely inconsistent and underwhelming especially when playing important qualifier matches.

"We ought to have won against Burundi in my opinion. The game against Ivory Coast was a tricky one and the draw was a fair result. However, how we played against Burundi demonstrated the need for a new coach. We have good players but unfortunately, the current coach has failed to get the best from them. His record with the team and previous work station doesn't inspire confidence," Nandwa told Sportsboom in a tell-it-all telephone interview. 

The manner in which Firat handled the team selection ahead of the two matches; against Burundi and the African champions left a bitter taste in the mouth of Nandwa who questioned his ability to plan well. 

Firat was heavily criticised for handing call ups to naturalized players and giving opportunities to players, who were not in the plan, hours to the game against Ivory Coast. 

"The planning by the coach was really poor. We had about three weeks of planning but it was disappointing with the way he gave opportunities. It left the question, did the coach plan to fail? How do you drop players who were part of your plan and who had trained with the rest for more than a week for others who were not in the picture?" posed Nandwa. 

Image Credits: Louis H

Image Credits: Louis H

FKF should lay off Firat's assistants as well

Nandwa, who played for Stars between 1982 to 1993 as a striker and later as an attacking midfielder, called for the sacking of the assistant coaches. 

Firat is deputised by former Bandari coach Ken Odhiambo and William Muluya who doubles up as the current Kariobangi Sharks trainer.

The two served as assistants to former Stars coach, Ghost and were spared when the federation made changes in Stars technical bench in 2021. 

The former Stars assistant coach faulted the duo for failing to advise Firat accordingly and for being in the team for a long time yet the results were not pleasing. 

Nandwa's sentiments appear to marry those associated with veteran Tusker coach Robert Matano who reportedly questioned the decision to have Odhiambo and Muluya in the national team's bench. 

"It's time we get new faces in the technical bench. The team has two good assistant coaches who are also responsible for the poor results the team has been registering. They failed to advise the coach and have been with the team for more than two years yet the team keeps on registering poor results," said Nandwa. 

Hire local coaches

In the event that FKF bows to pressure and gets rid of Firat and his backroom staff, Nandwa strongly advocates for locally-trained coaches to take over. 

Nandwa, who at some point served as the team's assistant to the late Henri Michel, said it was unfair for FKF to continue training coaches yet they can't trust them with the best opportunities. 

"FKF keeps on rolling out coaching courses and certifying the successful ones on a regular basis. It is time we trusted one of our own again. Some local coaches have done well with the team and we have to give them the chance and support them," he added. 

Shina Oludare
Shina OludareSports Writer

Shina Oludare is a notable Nigerian sports journalist and writer recognized for his extensive coverage of African sports. He has made significant contributions to the field through his work with reputable media outlets such as Goal.com and Soccernet. Known for his insightful analysis and comprehensive reporting, Oludare covers a wide range of topics within African football, including domestic leagues, national teams, and emerging talents. His work includes detailed player profiles, match previews and reviews, and transfer news, providing valuable insights into the intricacies of the sport on the continent.