Kenya: Ex international Onsika Wants Coach Firat Sacked

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• Who is the Onsika in question?

• Harambee Stars cause for alarm

• Devastated Onsika pours his heart out

• Wasteful call of unused late addition

• #UgSportsNow

Former Harambee Stars footballer Elijah Onsika has issued a stern call to the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) to make the tough decision of relieving head coach Engin Firat of his duties. Onsika, who represented Kenya in the late 1980s, voiced his concerns following the national team’s disappointing performance in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

Also read: Kenya Defender Onyango to Depart Sundowns after Four Years

Harambee Stars cause for alarm

Harambee Stars recently completed their matches against Burundi and African champions Ivory Coast, returning home with just two points from the fixtures. The team’s hopes of qualifying for their first-ever World Cup were dealt a blow as they struggled to secure victories in both game

Head Coach Engin Firat

Lagging in the 5th position on the log

In the match against Malawi on June 7th at the Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe, Harambee Stars conceded a late goal, resulting in a 1-1 draw with the Swallows. However, they put up a commendable display against Ivory Coast on June 11, holding the Elephants to a goalless draw. Despite the valiant effort against the reigning champions, Kenya slipped to fifth place in the qualifying group after Burundi secured a convincing 3-0 victory over Seychelles.

Devastated Onsika pours his heart out

“Firat has lost the plot, he has been here for a very long time, but he doesn’t understand which players to select for camp training and, who should start in respective matches, is that the type of coach we want for the national team?” he told media.

Onsika continued: “For example, ahead of Burundi, and Ivory Coast matches, he summoned three new call-ups from Europe, but at the end of the matches, no one played, and none was on the bench, reason, he summoned players even not confirming with them whether they have proper travel documents, at the end it means Kenya had less players in Malawi.”

Also read: Sofapaka CEO’s Optimism: Kenya’s World Cup Qualification Dream Still Alive

Eyebrows raised when European-based players failure to be make the traveling team

While naming his provisional squad for the qualifiers, Firat handed debut calls to European-based players – Bruce Kamau, who turns out for Perth Glory in Australia, Adam Wilson of Bradford City in England, and Tobias Knost (24), who plays in Germany for SV Verl.

However, on naming the travelling squad of 25, only Knost made the list, alongside another late inclusion Zak Vyner, who plays for Bristol City.

It later emerged that Knost and Vyner had not accompanied the team to Malawi because of a hitch in their travelling documents.

In the process, Firat then went ahead to summon players based in Kenya – youngster Baron Ochieng from Sofapaka, David Okoth and David ‘Cheche’ Ochieng from Kenya Police FC, and Clyde Senaji, who features for Nyasa Big Bullets in Zambia – to link up with the squad in Malawi, and it happened after they had played against the Swallows.

Wasteful call of unused late addition

What irritated Onsika more was the fact that none of the late summons made it to his starting XI for the Ivory Coast clash.

“He (Firat) then went for panic replacements, airlifting players to Malawi after the Burundi game as he planned to face Ivory Coast, and out of the players he handed a late call, none of them played, they sat on the bench, so what was the sense of calling the players late on?

“Why couldn’t he prepare the team with the players we have in the country? We have massive talent in the FKF Premier League, but Firat has neglected it, if he summons a local-based player to camp today, tomorrow he drops them, he doesn’t understand what he is doing, and he doesn’t know what he wants. It is a difficult situation that must be addressed, and the only way is for FKF to fire him.”

Onsika, who handled Kenya’s U19 national team in 2002 and took them to the CECAFA youth tournament in Zanzibar where they reached the quarterfinals, further wondered why the government through Cabinet Secretary for Sports Ababu Namwamba had not implored FKF had to do away with Firat and trust the job on a local coach.

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“Firat he is an opportunist, he will take Kenya nowhere, I even am wondering why the Ministry of Sports has not talked about what happened in Malawi or even asked FKF to intervene and clean the technical bench,” said Onsika.

Onsika gave an example of former coaches Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee and Francis Kimanzi saying during their time in charge, Kenya was a feared football nation across the East African region.

“We have local coaches, who can do better than Firat. If you compare the performance of the team during the time of ‘Ghost’ (Mulee), Kimanzi, and earlier on Mohammed Kheri, it was the best team to sit and watch with players in the local league and fans fighting to associate with the team, Kenya was the best team in the East African region, we must come to the table and give local coaches a chance.”

Onsika expressed his disappointment in the team’s performance during the Malawi tour, citing inadequate points harvested and attributing the setbacks to what he deemed as poor squad selection and tactical decisions under Firat’s leadership. The former player highlighted the urgent need for a fresh start to revitalize Kenyan football and propel the national team to greater heights.

Disappointed Onsika calls for a change in leadership

Advocating for a change in leadership, Onsika emphasized that Firat’s tenure had run its course and claimed that his departure, along with the rest of the technical staff, could mark the beginning of a new chapter for Harambee Stars. The seasoned footballer underscored the importance of ushering in a new era of coaching expertise and strategic direction to elevate Kenya’s footballing standards and aspirations on the international stage.

As the calls for Firat’s dismissal gain momentum, the Football Kenya Federation faces the challenge of steering the national team towards a brighter future while addressing the concerns raised by former players and stakeholders within the football community. The decision to part ways with Firat could signify a pivotal moment for Kenyan football, paving the way for fresh opportunities and renewed optimism for the Harambee Stars’ quest for success on the global stage.

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