Stars must go for Cecafa title: Mwendwa
Football Kenya Federation chief Nick Mwendwa has said that Harambee Stars will settle for nothing but the Cecafa Senior Challenge title when they host the competition from next month.
Despite being led by newly appointed Belgian head coach Paul Put who is yet to assess the local players for the tournament; Mwendwa sees no reason for playing second fiddle to any competitor.
Speaking during presentation of the coach to the Ministry of Sports officials at the ministry’s headquarters in Nairobi on Tuesday, Mwendwa said that the Cecafa squad will be assembled by assistant coach Stanley Okumbi.
Okumbi was demoted to deputise the Belgian after a troubled stint at the helm of the team.
“Even before Put came on board, our target was to win this year’s edition. We therefore expect his presence to be a boost towards our goal.
“However, he(Put) has set his sight on the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) and Qatar 2022 (World Cup) as you heard him say, but the journey starts now,” Mwendwa said.
According to the FA chief, the tournament will be key for Put to establish a working relationship with Okumbi and “other technical bench members” , as the federation gradually works towards implementing his recommendations.
Top of Put’s recommendations is bolstering the technical bench with Belgian experts.
“We have discussed with Put and he has many ideas that we will assess as we progress and work on implementing.
“For example, we have realised we are doing so badly in our medical aspects. When he was in Burkina Faso, he would bring experts on that area from Belgium on short term basis. We can do it differently here depending on how he rates our standards,” he offered.
Big things big country
On his part, Put has called for support from all stakeholders in his journey to change football fortunes in the country.
“I have written history with small countries like Gambia, Jordan and Burkina Faso. This another chance of doing big things in a big country.
“I know Kenya is doing well in athletics and it’s time we take football to that level,” Put charged.
Put is expected to name his provisional squad for the tourney on Wednesday, 13 days to the kickoff in Nakuru, Kisumu and Kakamega towns.
The last time Kenya hosted Cecafa was in 2013, and went on to win the regional showpiece under the tutelage of coincidentally, another Belgian, Adel Amouroche.
Meanwhile, Sports Principal Secretary Ambassador Peter Kaberia has assured the ministry will not relent in supporting the vision FKF shares with Put.
“We have had a good relationship with FKF and we are happy for this step that we believe will take our football a notch higher.
“We will do everything possible to see his (Put) aspirations are achieved,” noted Kaberia.