Harambee Stars have lost 0-1 to neighbours South Sudan in a friendly clash played at the Kasarani International Sports Center, Nairobi-Kenya on Tuesday, 12th September.
The loss to Kenya in the Harambee Stars vs South Sudan went against many expectations as the Kenyan side was backed by many to easily win this clash.
Kenya won 1-2 away from home in a clash with Qatar against 5 days ago.
The defeat to South Sudan means Harambee Stars must now go back to the drawing board to assess their performance, especially what could have possibly gone wrong for Engin Firat's men.
Stars struggled for a comeback despite late efforts
Kenyans who had trooped to the Kasarani Stadium were treated to a heartbreak early in the game when South Sudan opened the scoring in the 2nd minute.
— Harambee Stars (@Harambee__Stars) September 12, 2023
Tito Okello scored the opener for the neighbours to excite the away fans who had also thronged the venue.
Tito Okello is a former Gor Mahia player and currently plays as a striker for Kenya Police FC.
For the remaining 88 minutes, the Kenyan side could not get an equaliser to save face in front of enthusiastic fans.
Harambe Stars skipper Olunga and teammate Mike Shummah nearly got an equalizer toward the end but nothing materialized from their maiden chances in the 63rd and 83rd minutes respectively.
The defeat against South Sudan further means both teams now have a win apiece in two meetings.
The previous duel between the two sides was in March 2021, a game that also had a single goal in favour of Harambee Stars.
Losing the second home game against the visitors calls for reflection on the part of the tactical team.
Turkish tactician Engin Firat recently complained about not being paid for 10 several months. He said in a post-match conference that the situation is putting a strain on his family.
What could have gone wrong for Harambee Stars against South Sudan?
The first international friendly fixture in September was a massive step ahead of today's clash with South Sudan.
So, even as Kenya's president was at the forefront in rallying support for the home side in today's clash with South Sudan, there are some takeaways from today's defeat.
Let's go ! pic.twitter.com/tbpBGTX9e3
— Nick Mwendwa (@Nmwendwa) September 12, 2023
Kenya's Harambee Stars have now failed to get back-to-back wins in 13 outings, suffering 3 defeats in the last five assignments.
A win away from home in Qatar was applauded by fans back home and so were the thousands of supporters who turned out to back the Kenyan side in Qatar.
The home loss against South Sudan triggered an immediate reaction on social media, with many calling on the FKF and Ministry of Sports to level up in managing football affairs in the country.
Even with a younger and more energetic squad, the Football Kenya Federation is once again in the spotlight for the wrong reasons.
Firat says non-payment of salary is not the main issue but a strain on his family
Most recently, the failure of the football governing body to honour the contractual agreement with the Harambee Stars coach Engin Firat remains a thorny issue.
In a post-match conference after the defeat to South Sudan, the Harambee Stars head coach lamented once again lamented going without salary for several months.
He says the salary arrears have put a strain a financial strain on his family.
The gaffer was initially handed a 3-month contract in September 2021 but FKF extended it to 2026 following impressive performances.
— Football Kenya Federation (@Football_Kenya) September 19, 2021
In June this year, Kenya's Sports Cabinet Secretary, Ababu Namwamba, promised Firat's outstanding dues would be paid soon.
However, recent remarks by Namwamba that they have never seen Firat's contract means the Ministry of Sports and FKF continue are not reading from the same script.
Engin Firat averages 1.11 points in 9 games of 3 wins, 1 draw and 5 defeats since taking over as the Harambee Stars head coach in September 2021.
The situation could worsen if Namwamba's ministry and FKF fail to agree on the modality for clearing the salary arrears owed to the Turkish tactician.
This article was most recently revised and updated 3 weeks ago