NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 21- Charles Comiskey, a renowned American Major Baseball League player, manager and team owner once said; “It is the small things in life which count; it is the inconsequential leak which empties the biggest reservoir.”
Paul Put, the Harambee Stars new coach seems to have taken this kind of advice and implemented it straight on having been handed the national team job at the end of November.
In his first assignment with the team, Put led the country to its seventh CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup title and what was more imposing of the victory is the resilience and difference in approach the team showed.
Capital Sport has learnt that the tactician has started by making minor changes in the team including diet, sleeping patterns and recovery.
Biggest of them all is diet; the Belgian absolutely is not a fan of processed and fatty foods and ensures the players eat according to his requirement.
“When he came in, all our fat levels were measured. Only one player had the right levels. Most of us were way beyond it. In camp now, most food is boiled or cooked with very little fat. Sausages, too many eggs, margarine.. those are now foreign things to us,” one of the players told Capital Sport.
He also added that the coach will call them up again after the festivities and their body fat levels will be measured again.
“We are going for Christmas but no fun in food. We will be on our boiled food. I can’t even dare eat what is not required because the coach is very serious. We have to get it right,”
“The first few days we were complaining in low tones but after two days, we got used to it. He is very professional and particular with everything. If it is time to sleep it is time to sleep. If it is decided that today all of us are wearing green shirts, you have to wear a green shirt! He also discourages us from over-using our phones especially outside the room,” the player further intimates.
The Belgian is also very particular with the recovery of the players; he wants them to have enough rest since he has insisted, the best game tomorrow depends on how you rest today.
For the first time, the coach has also introduced ice baths after every game.
“The doc comes round every evening, knocks and asks people to come out for the ice baths. Woe unto you if you don’t go. He checks the list himself. It has really worked for us by the way because after that you feel so refreshed,” another player adds.
The tactician’s motivation methods have also been hailed by the players especially in two crucial games; the semi-final match against Burundi in Kisumu and the final in Machakos against Zanzibar.
Against Burundi especially the players underperformed in the first half. It is said that the coach was red with fury.
“It is the first time we have seen him angry. He came and told us the team that just played was not his team. It was not the team he had trained and prepared. When he cooled down he motivated us, told us to go play for ourselves. He told us “Go play for your mothers, they carried you for nine months and deserve the best,” another player attests.
Skipper Musa Mohammed has admitted that the coach has brought in a lot of positive change which he hopes will push them to qualify for the 2019 Cup of Nations.
“It is not that coach Stanley was not doing it but coach Put has come in with more emphasis and he has really pushed us in those two weeks. The change has been seen and this is a good start for us. Next up is AFCON and we are confident we can attain that target,” Mohammed noted.
Meanwhile, the tactician has said all players including the foreign based legion will start from the same level when he calls them up for the first assignment together, preferably during the FIFA window in March.
The coach says he will give an equal chance to all players and no one will be above the other.
“Everyone starts from the same level,” the coach said.
He has also hailed the improvement of the players over the two weeks and says it sets him up perfectly ahead of the AFCON qualifiers.
“I came one week before the tournament and the progress of the boys is unbelievable. We have to see the positives and for the negatives, leave them to me, I will work on them. I will prepare the team to qualify for AFCON,” says Put who led Burkina Faso to their first ever Cup of Nations final.
The coach has also asked the fans to rally behind the team as they look to achieve the 2019 feat, expressing delight with the government coming on board with enormous support.