Bristol City's Zak Vyner denied Kenya debut as head coach hits out at officials' mistakes

Kenya head coach Engin Firat has hit out at unnamed officials in the national FA after Bristol City defender Zak Vyner was unable to make his debut for the Harambee Stars because his new passport wasn’t processed in time.

Vyner has returned to the West Country having trained with Kenya in the build-up to their World Cup qualifiers against Burundi and Ivory Coast. He had been considered for a starting role for Friday’s 1-1 draw with the former, only to be denied a first international appearance as the deadline for his relevant documentation was missed, rendering him ineligible to play.

The 27-year-old was born in London but qualifies through his mother, and considers himself half-Kenyan. It therefore comes as a blow for the popular centre-back, both personally and professionally, and he’ll likely have to wait until September when he can next be called up as the African Cup of Nations qualifiers are due to begin.

"We did all our tactical training with Zak Vyner. If Zak had been on the field today, we would have won,” Firat said, as reported by Pulse Sports. “Sometimes people need to focus less on what's happening on the field and more on doing their jobs properly. Things that seem simple can be very complex here in Kenya."

Vyner, a regular in the Robins defence over the last four seasons, was set to be named in the Kenya side among three new players, which also included Germany-based defender Tobias Knost, who has suffered a similar fate.

“We have five or six players who are injured, but today, three players who were not injured also missed out due to some mistakes that were done,” Firat added.

It does mean Vyner will be free to report back for pre-season with Bristol City later this month as the Robins are due back for testing in just over a fortnight. Had he played in either match for Kenya, he’d potentially have been granted extra time off, which will be the case for Tommy Conway and Ross McCrorie following their inclusion in the Scotland squad for Euro 2024.

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