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Put set to shake up Stars technical bench

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Haambee Stars head coach Paul Put issuing instructions to players during training at Utalii Grounds on 30th November, 2017. Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 7- Harambee Stars head coach Paul Put says he will bring in his own assistant coaches ahead of the team’s crucial African Cup of Nations qualifier against Ghana in October, saying he needs to put in a stronger team to aid Kenya to the first continental championship since 2004.

Put says he has already forwarded his proposal to the Football Kenya Federation after the completion of the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup and he expects a response before March when he plans to have his first two friendly matches.

“When you have people like Wanyama (Victor), Olunga (Michael) playing at the highest level, you also have to approach them at a higher level. There will be people coming in yes. I can’t say I’m not happy, because everyone has been doing his best,” the tactician said on Wednesday.

He adds; “My work is to get improvement and make sure everything is professional. They don’t have to take it they are not good enough, it is because we are at a higher level.”

The Belgian tactician hired on a two year contract by FKF last November has been working with Stanley Okumbi and John Kamau as first and second assistant coaches with Haggai Azande as the goalkeeper trainer.

Harambee Stars head coach Paul Put and his assistant Stanley Okumbi at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos during the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

The coach says he will not entirely do away with the trio if he gets his way and has his people coming in, saying they will remain part of the team and learn from his new deputies.

“When I came in they asked me to give my best experience. I can only request and explain why I am doing this. It’s the federation to make a decision. The Kenyan people will still be on board, they will be on their side to learn and improve,” Put added.

Before Put’s arrival, Okumbi had been tasked with heading the team and worked with Kamau, Frank Ouna and Musa Otieno but the latter two were disposed as soon as the Belgian landed. Okumbi had come under increasing fire for the team’s performance since he took over.

“If you try qualify for AFCON you can’t make mistakes. Football is detailed and every detail makes the difference. We can’t joke with anything; we have to do everything in a professional way,” the coach insists.

Put says these changes are meant to ensure the team earns its quest to qualify for the 2019 AFCON in Cameroon and he remains optimistic that they will despite losing the first qualification match away to Sierra Leone.

“I believe and if I didn’t I would not be here. There is potential and it showed when we did something no one was expecting with CECAFA. It is not only the quality that matters; the heart, mentality and spirit has to be there and this is what I will try give players and push them over the limit,” added the coach.

Harambee Stars head coach Paul Put presents a signed jersey to Deputy President William Ruto during a breakfast meeting at the DP’s Karen Residence on December 19, 2017. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Meanwhile, he says the team will have at least four friendly matches before the qualifier against Ghana. He has suggested two in march and two in May, though the latter will not be a FIFA date.

“We might play Comoros and then we are also looking at either Burkina Faso, Mali or Niger for the second match. Hopefully we can do it because if you are preparing for Ghana you cannot joke. You have to do 100 percent,” he said.

Put hopes these two matches will help him analyze all his players especially the foreign based ones. For both May matches he hopes the Russia World Cup preparatory games will give his team a chance to play at least two matches at home.

With the federation wallowing in financial uncertainty since the exit of major partners SportPesa, Put hopes they will look into other ways of financing the preparations with his major hope fixed on government help.

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