Sports

Firat rally Malawians to help Kenya make ‘big surprise’ against Ivory Coast

Monday, June 10th, 2024 01:37 | By
Harambee Stars’ Duke Abuya (left) scores against Burundi national team’s goalkeeper during their World Cup qualifier on Friday.
Harambee Stars’ Duke Abuya (left) scores against Burundi national team’s goalkeeper during their World Cup qualifier on Friday. PHOTO/FKF

Harambee Stars head coach Engin Firat has given a rallying call to Malawi football fans to turn up in large numbers and support Kenya which is plotting a `big surprise' against the 2024 African Cup of Nations Champions Ivory Coast tomorrow at their fourth match of the FIFA 2026 World Cup Qualifiers at the Bingu National Stadium, Lilongwe.

After a disappointing 1-1 draw against a troublesome Burundi last Friday, the Kenya boys have embarked on another mission, planning how to down continental football heavyweights Ivory Coast, who are seeking a fourth World Cup qualification.

"The focus now is on the next match because it is not a normal match, you don't play every day against African champions, and I also hope that Malawi, which is now our second home that Malawi people will help us to make a big surprise on Tuesday," Firat told People Sport.

Harambee Stars rested on Saturday after the exasperating Friday duel against the Swallows and resumed training yesterday at the Bingu in Area 49 of the City of Lilongwe.

"The players were down for sure after the game because it was a match that we deserved to win. The objective has been to push them up. We have been focusing on recharging mentally and forgetting about the Burundi game because this is not to think about the past.

"We can only think about the future and as you know; when you face a team like Ivory Coast and you are not mentally fit then they can capitalize on that," he added.

Straight from registering their third consecutive Group F win against Gabon in Korhogo on Friday night, the Elephants did not waste time; they travelled and landed in Lilongwe at 11 am local time on Saturday.

Early team news from the Kenyan camp is that coach First can breathe a sigh of relief following the availability of Kenyan citizenship documents for defenders Tobias Knost and Zak Vyner whose services were immensely missed in the frustrating stalemate against Burundi. The duo are expected to make their Harambee Stars debuts tomorrow should they get the green light after today's pre-match meeting.

Coach Firat has made another call up to Keya Police FC forward David Okoth as he looks to ameliorate his offensive force. He has also called upon the services of former Tucker and AFC Leopards defender Clyde Seneji who plies his trade for Malawi's league giants Nyasa Bullets to help in his defensive problems after being plagued by injuries.

"We needed some more players even for training and David is experienced and can help us a lot in this situation when are hit with injuries. It is not time to try young players although we have a couple of young players in the camp with us already," he said.

Ivory Coast led by their AFCON-winning coach Emerse Fae, will have a feel of the matchday stadium late today at the Bingu National Stadium at 3 p.m. local time.

Meanwhile, FIFA has appointed Jayed Jalal from Morocco as the centre referee of the crucial game of the Harambee Stars. Jalal will be assisted by fellow Mo-roccans Azgaou Lahsen and Jermoumi Fatiha.

Chaf Mustafa also from Morocco will serve as the Fourth Official while Hassan Amir from Somalia will be the Match Commissioner.

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