NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 21 – Even as he takes over reign at the Harambee Stars technical bench, new head coach Paul Put has admitted that there is a lot of work to be done for the team to qualify for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
Put, who is of the Belgian nationality, has pleaded for support from all stakeholders, saying it will come in handy to helping him make history with the Kenyan football team, with his main target being to send Kenya to the 2019 Cup of Nations for the first time since 2004.
Put, who has a wealth of experience having successfully managed African sides Gabon and Burkina Faso, was speaking on Tuesday after paying Sports Principal Secretary Kirimi Kaberai a courtesy call since signing a two-year contract.
“I will raise the Kenyan flag very high because If I make decision to sign for a nation my work is to get good results since I believe in the project. There is a lot of work to do in Kenya but if I see a big nation with a lot of talent then I’m convinced I can do a great job,” the 61-year-old said.
“I have a great feeling we can move forward to get Kenya on the highest level and be amongst the biggest football nation in Africa. I’m not a kind of person who like talking big words but I can say I have been writing history with small countries like Jordan, Gambia and Burkina Faso and what I did there I’m convinced I will do it as well in Kenya ,” he added.
Despite having little knowledge on Kenyan football especially local based players, Put has asked to be given more time and in the meantime his predecessor Stanley Okumbi, who has been handed the role of first assistant coach, will help him out in naming the squad that will do duty at the upcoming CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup.
Put’s first assignment will be an acid test match against the Amavubi Stars of Rwanda on December 3 during the opening day of the regional tournament.
“I did my homework, I come from Belgium and I know two of your players Victor Wanyama and Ayub Timbe who have played for Belgium clubs before so I know a little bit. Of course I don’t know local players so please give me time to get in the job and find out on the players then I will give my input,” Put pleaded.
He called on supporters to rally behind the team and make the home advantage count.
“I don’t want to play in a stadium with 7,000 people I want to play in a stadium with 60,000 people, I want to play 12 against 11, I want to win the game but to win the game you need the support in the right way,” he urged.
“You can trust me I will go for it not for 100 percent but for ‘500 percent’ I will give everything that I have inside me to really make it happen and make everybody celebrate. I know you (Kenya) have great athletes but now we going to make sure that football is on the highest level.”
He takes charge when Kenya is ranked 102 in the FIFA rankings after the Harambee Stars slumped 14 places in the rankings that were released October.
Put’s biggest achievement in the continent was leading Burkina Faso to the 2013 African Nations Cup final where they lost 1-0 to Nigeria.
Kenya, who will be out to reclaim the CECAFA title that they last won in 2013, will also face Tanzania, Zanzibar and guest team Libya in Group A.