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Coach Put, demands a more ‘qualified’ bench

Harambee Stars coach Paul Put has called for a complete overhaul of the national team technical bench ahead of Kenya’s Group F Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier at home to Ghana in September.

Put, while acknowledging the qualifications of current occupants of Stars technical roles, said their inexperience in managing at the top level was a stumbling block to the country’s ambitions of qualifying for next year’s AFCON.

There have been continued speculations that Put has not been satisfied with the input of former Harambee Stars head coach Stanley Okumbi who is now his deputy and was even tasked with selecting players for the Council of East and Central Africa Football Association (Cecafa) Senior Challenge, when Put was still new in his job.

The Belgian national has recommended his preferred names to Football Kenya Federation (FKF) for action but does not mind accommodating the current aides to learn from his proposed experts.

“I’m trying to improve the level of football in Kenya because it is my obligation to do so. If we want to qualify for AFCON you cannot make mistakes, we have to do it in a professional way and be at one hundred per cent. There will be people coming in the technical bench but I cannot blame anybody because they have qualifications and doing their level best. That’s what I’ve been seeing,” Put said yesterday.

If Put’s proposal gets FKF National Executive Committee (NEC) approval, it might spell the end to Stanley Okumbi’s stint with the national team. Youth coach John Kamau who has been moonlighting with the senior team as well as fitness trainer Michael Igendia and Haggai Azande the goalkeeping coach stand to lose their status as well. “If you are working in a lower level you must be ready to learn.

We have to move forward, if we can’t then it’s no use hiring a coach. Ever since we won CECAFA, I’ve been doing reports and advice on the way forward. Details make a difference in football.

Other people don’t have to take it that they are not good enough, it’s just that they are working at a different level,” the Belgian with vast football experience added Put has also indicated that Harambee Stars will play two friendly matches during the March 19-27 FIFA international dates and urged the federation to source for two more friendlies even outside FIFA international days to help him shape the team.

“We have one confirmed international friendly in March against Cameroon. I would like us to play another game, which could be against Mali, Burkina Faso or Nigeria so there are some options. We are preparing to play Ghana which is one of the best teams,”he said.

He added: “I don’t know all the players yet so I must see them play a lot. I try to keep up with KPL and watch videos of players in Zambia. I also want us to play two more games in May. Our next opponent is Ghana and that means we have to be perfect to beat them.

It’s all possible though. We won CECAFA with a squad of novices and nobody expected Burkina Faso in AFCON finals but they were there. Preparations will determine how far we go that is why I need top professionals.”

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