Harambee Stars head coach Paul Put is optimistic of guiding the national team to a successful Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifying campaign, having seen the potential the team has during the just-concluded Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup.
Stars last made an appearance at Afcon in Tunisia 13 years ago and face a herculean task in their quest to play in the continental showpiece in 2019 with multiple winners Ghana and local rivals Ethiopia in Group F that also includes Sierra Leone.
“The plan is to guide the team through Cecafa, Afcon and the World Cup. We are done with one and my attention shifts to the continental competition. The players displayed immense passion for football, hard work and sacrifice and I keep pushing them.
They have the basics and a good foundation and my work is clearly cut out as I build on that,” said Put. While admitting that the Cecafa win was not entirely his doing as he joined the team two weeks to the tournament, Put called on all stakeholders to support Stars as preparations for the match against Ghana commence in March.
“I am a very detailed person and for us to be successful, we need to work together on every detail to see the team reach the heights we desire. I will monitor all the players’ progress, both local and international, as we plan for friendly matches in March meant for the players to gel,” he added.
The coach was speaking during a celebratory luncheon hosted by Football Kenya Federation (FKF) where the team received monetary awards for winning the tournament. Meanwhile, FKF president Nick Mwendwa reiterated the need to support the team while inviting constructive criticism on his federation and the technical bench.
“The scrutiny we go through even on the slightest of decisions keeps us on toes. We cannot complain as gold has to go through fire to glister but can only strive to get better.
I believe in small beginnings and I am confident we are on the right path of getting our national team to the global stage,” Mwendwa offered. Sportpesa CEO, Ronald Karauri feted the players with Sh3million while Tuskys Supermarket gifted them with shopping vouchers worth Sh10,000 each.