Former Kariobangi player swam with sharks in KPL before making Premier Soccer League move

By Kimathi Kamau: Sunday, January 14th 2018 at 00:16 GMT +3 | Football
CECAFA SENIOR CHALLENGE CUP-MACHAKOS Kenya's Masoud Juma(L) and Eltribi Ahmed of Libya battle for ball possession during the CECAFA senior challenge cup at Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos on Tuesday 05/11/17.They draw 0-0[Boniface Okendo,Standard]

Player was subject of criticism after Harambee Stars lost to Sierra Leone, but he soldiered on.

The meteoric rise of former Kariobangi Sharks FC striker, Masoud Juma, ranks as one of the biggest success stories in Kenyan football in recent times.

Masoud, 21, is settling into life as a Cape Town City FC player having made a move to the South African Premier Soccer League (PSL) title-chasing side at the turn of the year, completing one of the most enduring rags to riches stories.

Incredibly just five months ago, Masoud was turned down by PSL champions, Bidvest Wits who are now struggling to retain their top-flight, sinking to the bottom of 16-team league in a shocking defence of their title.

Who knows? Perhaps, Masoud could have fired Wits out of trouble had they taken up the option to sign him since after being rejected by coach Gavin Hunt, the forward returned home and exploded to form.

Three weeks earlier at the beginning of July 2017, Masoud had quietly returned home crestfallen after failing trials at two Swedish sides AIK Fotball and Jonkopings Sodra that closely followed his disastrous debut for Harambee Stars.

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In the opening 2019 AFCON qualifier, Masoud who was handed a controversial start at Sierra Leone by then Harambee Stars head coach, Stanley Okumbi, was the focus of harsh criticism when the team Kenya lost 2-1, after squandering a golden opportunity to give his team an early lead.

With only the Leone Stars keeper Maurice Solomon to beat after being sent through on goal, Masoud saw his meek shot saved before Stars conceded twice with a late Michael Olunga strike proving to be a consolation.

At the time, he had three Kenyan Premier League (KPL) goals to his name and the choice to start him ahead of former Ulinzi Stars FC forward Stephen Waruru, who was leading the domestic scoring charts at the time, stoked even more controversy.

Enraged fans swiftly labelled him a ‘project’ of Football Kenya Federation President, Nick Mwendwa, who took over Sharks in 2001 and helped transform the club from the lower divisions into the KPL.

After returning home with the tail between his legs following his failed trials in Sweden and South Africa, Masoud was heavily trolled on social media, prompting him to turn to Facebook to respond to his critics.

“It doesn’t matter whether you fail or pass, what matters is how you will collect yourself and make it happen.

“Even Olunga attended trials in SA and he failed but (is) now his among the best strikers and our national team main striker. And sorry (to) those who like criticising players because (when) you criticise, it’s a challenge,” Masoud, posting under the name of, Masud Sudd, wrote.

“It will make me grow even more, I don’t need you guys to get where I want,” he added, stirring up more condemnation from keyboard Ninjas.

The forward then went about answering his critics in style, shooting to the 2017 KPL Golden Boot with 18 goals to his name to propel Sharks who were playing their first season in the top flight to finish a respectable third.

He was also the top scorer in the 2017 GOtv Shield Cup with five, but he could not inspire the side to a first domestic title when Sharks lost 2-0 to AFC Leopards in the final.

Masoud who played for Shabana FC, Bandari FC and Sony Sugar FC before swimming with the Sharks plundered an astonishing 24 goals in 31 appearances for the club to earn his move to Cape Town City.

“He is a young lad who is hungry to play. I think he deserves more credit than he is getting. Unfortunately he doesn’t get the kind of plaudits he deserves. That is the sad bit.

“There is no difference between training and match days for Masoud. He gives his all. That is exactly what we want from our players.

“As he continues to develop, I’m certain we will have an even more lethal forward,” his head coach at Sharks, William ‘Kanu’ Muluya remarked.

Born on February 3, 1996, the striker did not follow the well-trodden path of Kenyan footballers having been born and raised in Isiolo County.

Former Shabana and Leopards coach, Gilbert Selebwa, who took him to the fallen football giants, brought his talent to the Kenyan football mainstream.

He started his football at Tumaini Primary School before joining Isiolo Barracks Secondary for his O-levels where he featured for Isiolo Youth FC in the fifth tier of the national football pyramid.

He then joined Kambakia Christian Centre FC in Meru the following year. The team was then featuring in the FKF Division One Zone A Group 1 league, now the National Super League.

Masoud returned to Isiolo Youth until February 2014 when he was spotted training with the National Youth Talent academy at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.

At Bandari, Masoud earned a call up to the Kenya Under-23 team that was preparing for a 2015 All Africa Games qualifier but injury ruled him out of the game.

The striker was instrumental as the Dockers won their first and only domestic trophy, the 2015 Shield when he scored in their 3-1 victory over Nakumatt FC at Nyayo National Stadium.

He moved on to Sony Sugar where he caught the attention with his habit of scoring spectacular goals from range as he used his pace and hammer of a right-foot to good effect before Sharks swooped for him in January last year.

His potency in front of goal played a huge role in making his move to Cape Town City possible but there is no doubt being one of, if not the most talked about player in mainstream, online and social media has helped to propel his career.

Masoud hogged the headlines more than his local peers in 2017, eclipsing Meddie Kagere of champions Gor Mahia and Michael Madoya of Zoo Kericho FC who were named the Most Valuable Players in the SJAK and KPL Awards in that order.

He is the latest beneficiary of the growing coverage of the KPL, a competition that risked being reduced to irrelevance only 10 years ago, following in the path of Olunga, Jesse Were, Allan Wanga, George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo and Kevin Kimani among others who secured moves abroad after stellar domestic seasons.

The exit of South African-based pay television channel, SuperSport, last April robbed the KPL of the platform that saw a number of players shift their trade to other teams in the continent.

In a bid to fill the void, KPL has contracted French firm, Media Pro, to produce the games to the standards set by SuperSport with the idea of selling the rights to a terrestrial satellite television provider and a local free-to-air partner.

By owning and distributing its own rights, KPL is keen to guard against the over-reliance on a broadcast partner in lessons learned from the abrupt exit of SuperSport who had two years of their deal estimated at Sh600m annually to run.

For now, the country awaits the next Masoud - that player who will take the KPL by storm in 2018 and hopefully secure a move abroad.