(MENAFN- IANS) Nairobi, Nov 15 (IANS) Kenya's soccer team, the Harambee Stars head coach Firat is under no illusion of the difficulty of the task ahead as his team prepares to face Gabon in their opening CAF 2026 World Cup qualifier on Thursday.
The team leaves Nairobi on Wednesday, reports Xinhua.
The Turkish coach will be leading the east African nation to their first qualifier since the nine-month international football ban slapped on the country in 2022 ended in March this year.
Kenya has been pooled in Group F alongside Cote d'Ivoire, Gabon, Gambia, Burundi, and Seychelles.
After Gabon, they will cross over to Cote d'Ivoire where they will take on Seychelles on Nov. 20.
Firat challenged his team to try and qualify for a first ever World Cup in the tournament that will be held in North America.
"The World Cup qualifiers is a big task because we have big teams and only one can go up. AFCON looks different because there you normally have two teams and four teams in the group and two go up.
"So, the next Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in 2025 is, in my eyes, a must, to make it clear. What I have said to my boys is we should also go out of the group because we have never done it in our history," Firat told journalists in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.
He added that a good performance in the World Cup qualifiers would be a good sign for everybody as Kenya prepares to co-host the 2027 AFCON jointly with Uganda and Tanzania.
The head coach confirmed Brian Ojiambo, Collins Sichenje and Daniel Anyembe are out injured while Brian Mandela and Joseph Okumu and Eric Ouma face late fitness tests.
Firat also confirmed dependable winger Ayub Timbe faces a long-term absence as injuries threaten to decimate his backline.
MENAFN provides the information “as is” without warranty of any kind. We do not accept any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, content, images, videos, licenses, completeness, legality, or reliability of the information contained in this article. If you have any complaints or copyright issues related to this article, kindly contact the provider above.