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“It’s a 50-year problem”: Firat criticizes Kenya for hosting home games in Malawi

Harambee Stars coach Engin Firat has criticized Kenya for neglecting sporting infrastructure and having to face the embarrassment of playing home matches in Malawi next month.

Harambee Stars coach Engin Firat has termed the lack of a CAF and FIFA approved stadium in Kenya as a historic issue that is now hitting the country hard.

Kenya will host Burundi and Ivory Coast in Malawi for their 2026 World Cup qualifiers as the country lacks a stadium that meets international standards, with the Kasarani and Nyayo stadiums, which do not yet meet the criteria, currently under renovation.

It is a decision that has seen many Kenyans regret it and, while he admits the situation will deprive his player of necessary local support in next month’s two matches, Firat says the country is paying the price for years of negligence, not only in the construction of stadiums, but also adequate football infrastructure.

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“From the first day I came here I talked about infrastructure and said; ‘Look, if you don’t have it, forget it.’ Do you think that now if you have a stadium everything is solved? Nothing is solved.” Firat told the media on Wednesday.

“As long as we don’t have good fields to train in, (currently) we don’t even have an international field to train in. I tell the truth but no one helps me so now how different is the situation that we don’t have a stadium to play in?

“AFCON is approaching, but this problem is still here, it is not a problem of today or tomorrow, we have to build something for the future of the country.”

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Firat reserved some praise for the Sports Cabinet Secretary, Ababu Namwamba, whom he praised for showing great efforts to improve the state of sports infrastructure in the country, as well as being open to suggestions.

“Now we have a Sports Minister who wants to change things, who comes with ideas. I have someone to whom I can tell my problems and he listens to me and looks for solutions.” added the Turkish coach.

“It is not possible to create new good players if you do not have the infrastructure. You can’t play well if you don’t have a good field. “It’s something I’ve been talking about for a year and a half.”

Firat then lamented that his players will greatly miss the support of the 12th man in the June 7 and 11 matches to be played at the Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe, saying it could influence the outcome.

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“I would like my players to play in front of the fans, but why can’t we? Don’t ask me this question, ask it yourself, everyone in Kenya.” Firat said.

“It’s not something that happened now, what happened in the last 50 years? It is a mistake made in the last 50 years that we do not have the infrastructure.

“We are disappointed because our fans are the real power when we need them. “If the game is 50-50, then the fans are the ones pushing us, but we’ve been missing this for a year and a half.”

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It will be the first time Kenya hosts its home matches in another country in a competitive fixture.

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