NAIROBI, Kenya, September 25- Harambee Stars head coach Henri Michel will focus on preparing the side for the forthcoming African Championship of Nations (CHAN) at the expense of the regional Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup.
The Frenchman who has called up 28 local-based players to train at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani said his focus would be on making an impact in the second tier continental event since the regional tourney is clashing with their CHAN qualifier against Burundi.
“In my opinion, the Cecafa Cup is not an important competition and I’m not taking it into consideration at the moment.
“I prefer to have my players prepare for the game against Burundi rather than this competition where you have one game every 48 hours which is not compatible with the job you have to do to prepare an international game like the one before us,” said Michel during his first media briefing since his appointment in August.
His stance comes a fortnight after Football Kenya Federation (FKF) ceded the hosting rights of this year’s Cecafa to Uganda after a tussle that involved reporting the matter to the Confederation of African Football during their general assembly in Seychelles last month.
Reports in local media had quoted FKF president, Sam Nyamweya, on Monday saying Stars would focus on CHAN, the continental championship that features locally based players only in a bid to improve Kenya’s Fifa rankings.
Cecafa Secretary General, Nicholas Musonye, was also cited stating they would seek to re-jig the fixtures to allow Kenya take on Burundi in what appears to be a new supremacy war between the two football administrators.
Michel who has taken Cameroon, Tunisia, Morocco and Ivory Coast to the FIFA World Cup however, underpinned the ultimate target was to feature in the 2014 edition while conceding it will be a monumental task.
“For the short term, talking about the qualifiers, it’s true that right now our position is a bit complicated, but when you go into a competition you always have hope and go to win games.
“So let’s imagine that we win the two games against Nigeria it will look more like a miracle but again if we lose it will look like normal, so we still have hope and will play the game 100 percent,” he outlined.
Kenya have only a point from their two qualifiers thus far after a 0-0 home draw against Malawi followed by a 1-0 defeat to Namibia.
Michel noted the squad he is working with for CHAN has potential but faulted the domestic top tier club competition, Tusker Premier League, which he observed had a lot to do to catch up with similar competitions in other parts of the continent.
“The actual level of Kenyan football is average, but the best point is there is the possibility of more improvement and work on different parameters.
“We have watched some games here but we still need to watch much more to be sure of the quality of all players. Some may be here now but won’t be there next time because when you select after just a few weeks you may make mistakes,” he added.
Michel disclosed he would look into the lower tiers of domestic leagues for players to include in the national team echoing the method used by one of his predecessors, the late German coach Reinhardt Fabisch, who went beyond the premier league (then super league) to cap players when he took charge in the late 1990s.
“The principle of national teams is the same all over the world, the selection is always open to any player, so they must know it can change anytime and they should all be positive about that.
“I just arrived a few weeks ago, I have to go step by step, so it’s logical at the moment that we are working with the top league but we will go lower since we can’t everything at the same time,” Michel who was employed by Equatorial Guinea until January expressed.
The coach who upon his arrival declared he was focused on lifting the world ranking of the country from the lowly 126 averred he was hoping to lead his charges in a friendly against neighbours Rwanda during the November FIFA window.
He stressed local players had potential to improve since many may not have had the opportunity of modern training methods which he assured his team was ready to offer.