CAIRO, Egypt, Apr 10 – Former Harambee Stars head coach Paul Put has opened up the lid on his exit from the national team exactly three months after he was appointed to the spot, despite leading the country to the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup.
Put was unveiled as Kenya’s coach at the Football Kenya Federation Annual General Meeting in Mombasa on November 18, 2018, but resigned from the post three months later on February 19.
Speaking to Capital Sport in Cairo, Egypt where he is in ahead of Friday’s 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) draw, the Belgian tactician who now works with Guinea said he felt he didn’t have enough support to continue in the job.
“It was a very hard decision to leave Kenya,” the 63 year old Put says.
“I didn’t feel like I had the support at that moment. There was pressure but no support. Opportunities came my way and as a coach you look to get more support. I worked for those three months with 100pc motivation.”
“I was very happy in Kenya because it was a nice county with nice people and I was lucky to win CECAFA on my first assignment. But I had to make a decision and it was not an easy one,” the tactician further stated.
“The last four or five weeks were very hard for me and if you don’t have the conversation with the people responsible, it’s difficult for a coach. That’s why I decided to move because having support is important,” he added.
Put assembled a new look team within few days of arriving in the country ahead of the 2017 Senior Challenge Cup hosted in Kenya and went all the way to clinch the crown, earning praise from foe and enemy.
The team was hosted for breakfast by Deputy President William Ruto where they were heavily rewarded for the victory and support promised his way, but the tactician says that was never made possible.
He pulled the shock move to resign in February after weeks of speculation and no sooner had he left his job at the Harambee Stars than the Syli Nationale of Guinea snapped him up for the second stint.
And, he went on to help the Guineans qualify for the 2019 Cup of Nations having missed out on the 2017 edition, and this he did with one match day to go.
Guinea finished top of Group H without losing a match winning three and drawing the remaining three.
“Of course it is not the first time for me to be at AFCON but this was special because they did not make it to the last AFCON. The expectation was high this time and I am glad we delivered,” he stated.
“I changed a lot in the team in terms of the organization structure, team players and sometimes you need luck and I was lucky to have the opportunity to qualify. Iit’s a nice feeling, very proud and hopefully we can play a very good AFCON,” he further added.
On their targets for the tournament, Put says; “The first target is to get out of the first round and then from there we see what comes off it. You can go as far as you want if you can manage the first round. It is an exciting moment and sometimes it is important you have luck on your side.”
He is eagerly anticipating for Friday’s draw which will be conducted outside the famous Egyptian pyramids in Giza.
And what if he draws Kenya on Friday?
“We will see, that would be interesting,” he says with a grin.
“But we are ready for anyone. There is no small or big team in Africa. It will be tough especially now that there are 24 teams,” he stated.
Put is also excited with the form that his star midfielder Naby Keita has picked for his English Premier League club Liverpool. Over the weekend, Keita scored his first Premier League goal for Liverpool and on Tuesday night scored his first Champions League goal for the Reds as they beat Porto 2-0 at Anfield.
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