Kenya’s FA president Nick Mwendwa has defended the decision to hire the national team coach on a two-month contract as his administration fumbles for answers after Harambee Stars were eliminated from the ongoing 2022 Fifa World Cup Qualifiers.
Engin Fırat took over from Jacob Mulee who ‘left on mutual consent’ barely a year after he replaced Francis Kimanzi (who also left on mutual consent) on October 21, 2020.
“We have been plagued with issues around coaches way before I got here. We recently paid a coach (Adel Amrouche) KSh110 million just because of decisions that were not made properly. We had to divert our money from Fifa meant for grassroots to pay this one coach,” the Football Kenya Federation president said as he pointed the finger at the previous administration even though he terminated Amrouche’s contract leading to a protracted legal battle that saw the Belgian award hefty amount for breach of contract.
But he nonetheless defended the two months handed to Firat, a Turkish manager, claiming that hiring a long term coach would have cost the federation an arm and a leg.
“We learned and said that never again are we going to make that decision that cost us. We have another coach (Bob Williamson) that also cost us KSh55 million,” Mwendwa told NTV’s The Game Plan programme on Monday evening.
“Therefore, whenever we are hiring a new coach, we are very careful never to plunge Kenya, again, in this kind of situation.
“A permanent long-term coach was going to be around two years and it was going to cost us quite a lot of money.
“Looking at where we were, we were going to plunge ourselves in a million-dollar kind of cost, again with such a coach. It was not acceptable for us.”
Mwendwa described Firat as a “top-top” even though his stats at Moldovia say that opposite.
“We found a top-top coach.”
But in his 11 games with Moldovia, Firat lost nine times, drawing the rest.
Mwendwa is serving his sixth year in office. During this period, Kenya (Harambee Stars) has changed seven coaches.
But the outspoken Mwendwa says that things are not as bad as they seem.
“As you know we changed our team drastically. But even if you bring (Jose) Mourinho, even if you bring (Mikel) Arteta, here, the work that needs to be done is that we need to bring the talents to the table.
“For you to win, you need quality players,” he added, alluding to the fact that Kenya suffers from a serious dearth of talent.
“Let’s look at Mali, for example. Are we better than Mali?
“The answer is no!”
Harambee Stars lost 6-0 on aggregate to Mali in the World Cup Qualifiers.
They suffered a 5-0 defeat away in Morocco (where Mali played their home game) before losing 1-0 at home in Nairobi last Sunday.