Will Michael Olunga help Kenya floor Ghana’s Black Stars?

By Gilbert Wandera: Saturday, September 8th 2018 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Football
Harambee Stars striker Michael Olunga [Courtesy]

Everyone knows that if Harambee Stars are to return to the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals for the first time in more than a decade, the burden lies in the hands of Michael Olunga Ogada.

Just like the team had Dennis Oliech when they last qualified in 2004, Olunga perfectly fits the bill as the one expected to lead the 2019 Afcon campaign.

And it is easy to see why. At just 24 years old, the Japan-based striker proved his mettle as a consistent goal scorer on whom coach Sebastian Migne can bank his hopes for goals.

With 13 goals to his name in 29 matches for the national team, it is easy to see why Olunga will be critical in the current campaign which continues with a match against Ghana at Kasarani Stadium today.

He has scored one goal in the current campaign in an away match against Sierra Leone in June last year.

Olunga, nicknamed ‘engineer’ by Gor Mahia fans when he turned out for the club two years ago, has always had history of scoring goals right from his days as a student at Upper Hill High School.

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While a Form Four student in 2012, he was voted the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in secondary schools games in Mombasa after he emerged top scorer with five goals and despite his team losing in the final to St Anthony.

That year, he also scored a record 32 goals while playing for Liberty Professional in the Nairobi county league in a performance that made him get noticed by top clubs. It was no surprise then, that former Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions Tusker signed him up in 2013.

But he had a poor season with the brewers, scoring only three goals in 15 matches.

He joined Thika United the following year scoring nine goals in 26 matches. But it was at Gor Mahia which he joined in 2015 that his best came out and he emerged the Most Valuable Player at the end of the season after scoring 19 goals and helping his club to win the league title.

The performance slid him into a professional career with his next stint in Sweden where he turned out for Djurgaden IF and quickly made an impact with a man of the match performance against IFK Goteborg in a 3-1 win.

From Sweden, he went to China and was eventually loaned to Catalan club Girona where he made history by becoming the first Kenyan to score a hat-trick Spain's La Liga.

Born and raised up in Nairobi’s Lucky Summer Estate, Olunga faced numerous challenges in his childhood but a successful football career changed his life.