Firat eyes another win as Kenya battle South Sudan

Tuesday September 12 2023

Harambee Stars forward Micheal Olunga work-out with the team training session at Moi International Sports Centre in Nairobi, Kenya on September 11, 2023.PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO | NMG


Kenya's 'Harambee Stars' coach Engin Firat will look to build on last Friday's win over Qatar when his charges take on Bright Stars of South Sudan in another friendly match on Tuesday at Moi International Sports Centre (MISC), Kasarani from 4pm.

The match will mark the fifth meeting in history between the two neighbouring countries as Kenya continues preparations for the 2026 World Cup qualifiers scheduled to start in November.

Stars are in Group "F" alongside Seychelles, Burundi, Gambia, Gabon and Côte d’Ivoire.

Having always come under sharp criticism from Kenyans over his credentials and handling of Harambee Stars, Firat’s relief was apparent as television images showed him celebrating widely the 2-1 win over the 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar at Al-Janoubi Stadium.

Read: Qatar Fifa World Cup dream alive: Kenyan coach

Defender Joseph Okumu and Amos Nondi scored for Kenya, with Hassan Al Haydos netting Qatar’s consolation goal.


The victory was the third that Firat has registered with Harambee Stars in eight matches that he has been in charge of.

His other wins with the team include a 2-1 win over Rwanda in a 2022 World Cup qualifier held in Nairobi in November, 2021 and a 1-0 triumph over Pakistan in a friendly match held on June 14, 2023 in Mauritius.

Under him, Kenya lost 6-0 on aggregate to Mali in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, drew 1-1 with Uganda in the same competition in Nairobi, lost 2-1 and 1-0 in friendly matches against Iran in Tehran and Mauritius respectively.

Kenya are favourites heading into the match against South Sudan, since apart from dominating the fixture, they are also ranked ahead by the World football governing body, FIFA at 105. South Sudan is ranked at 167.

The last meeting between the two teams was an international friendly match in Nairobi on March 13, 2021 which the hosts won by a solitary goal.

Their other encounters include Genocide Commemoration Cup in Rwanda on June 7, 2015 (Kenya won 2-0), Cecafa Cup in Kenya on November 30, 2013 (Kenya won 3-1) and Cecafa Cup in Uganda on November 27, 2012 (Kenya won 2-0).

Read: Harambee Stars host Uganda in World Cup qualifiers opener

“What we have done very well is that we have changed how we play from behind and how we open the game… What is important to me is how the team is developing, how the players react and adapt to what we are doing in training," said Firat on Saturday after their arrival from Qatar.

South Sudan 's 'Bright Stars' arrived in Nairobi at the weekend and are expected to have a feel of the match’s venue on Monday evening.

South Sudan striker Tito Okello, who plays for Kenya Police, said they will look to correct the mistakes they made in their 4-0 drubbing by Mali last Friday at the Stade du 26 Mars, Bamako during their 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.

“This is just like another exercise. We got some lessons from the Mali game and we are here to correct some of the mistakes. It will be a big game for us,” he said after the team touched down at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.