Harambee Stars, Kenya’s national team, head coach Engin Firat has maintained that his side will put up a strong performance and make all Kenyans proud at the end of their friendly against Russia.
Kenya will face Russia in an international friendly encounter at the Mardan Sports Complex in Antalya, Turkey on Monday evening. The match kicks off at 19:00 East African Time.
The Harambee Stars, who will not be at the Africa Cup of Nations in January, are using this international window to prepare for the 2026 World Cup qualifiers starting in November.
On the other hand, Russia have been suspended from international competitions due to the war in Ukraine and can only play friendly matches for the time being.
Optimism ahead of Harambee Stars vs Russia match
Speaking ahead of the friendly clash, Firat said he expects his charges to give a good account of themselves.
“We have done our work and we are ready for the match. We will do our best to make the people in Kenya proud,” began the Turkish tactician.
Russia are ranked 39th in the current FIFA rankings, while the Harambee stars have found themselves outside the top one hundred in the 109th position.
In addition, the head coach noted that Russia will prove a hard nut to crack after their sublime performance against five-time Africa Cup of Nations winners Cameroon.
The Europeans defeated the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations hosts 1-0 in a friendly played at the Dinamo Lev Yashin Stadium last Thursday. Fyodor Chalov’s first-half goal was the difference in the tight contest.
“Russia is a very tough team. You saw it against Cameroon and how easily they won. They could even win high in this match. So we expect a tough match,” Firat said.
Furthermore, the 53-year-old further added that the intensity of international friendly matches was high, further citing that the squad needed more time so it could click.
Kenya 🇰🇪 head coach Engin Firat: “We’ve done our work, we are ready for the match [against Russia]” pic.twitter.com/d3saina6wO
— Eric Njiru (@EricNjiiru) October 16, 2023
“The intensity and tempo which we have in international matches is different and challenging and so this squad needs more time, but I also think they have worked really well so we will do our best,” he added.
Firat and his men will be hoping for a win against the Russians in order to uplift their spirit ahead of the World Cup qualifiers next month.
The Harambee Stars have been placed in Group ‘F’ alongside Ivory Coast, Gabon, Gambia, Burundi, and Seychelles.
According to the schedule, the Harambee Stars will begin their quest to qualify for the 2026 quadrennial show with an away game against Gabon at Stade de Franceville on November 13.
Harambee Stars’ scorecard in 2023
Last month, the Harambee Stars defeated Qatar 2-1 in Doha to claim their first win on the international scene for the year. Goals from defender Joseph Okumu and midfielder Amos Obiero Nnodi secured the win over the 2022 World Cup hosts.
However, Kenya were shocked 1-0 at the Moi International Sports Centre in Nairobi by South Sudan just days after that morale-boosting win in Doha.
In total, the Harambee Stars have played four international friendlies this year winning only once. Over that time, they have lost to South Sudan, Iran and Mauritius.
This article was most recently revised and updated 2 months ago