Stars who flickered, left and made an about-turn

By Gilbert Wandera: Saturday, January 19th 2019 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Football
Gor Mahia FC's Dennis Oliech playing against Posta Rangers FC during their KPL match at Kasarani Stadium on Wednesday Jan 9, 2019. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Kimani, Agwanda and Oliech among football journeymen back in national league

They stormed the football scene with a bang. Then they just went into oblivion. They seemed like briefcase stars and journeymen as they scattered.

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But the 2019 SportPesa Premier League (SPL) season offers a number of players an opportunity to rediscover themselves and perhaps regain their top form.

When Kevin Kimani was named player of the year in 2011, he had the world at his feet and so much was expected of him.

His award was unique considering he is a midfielder and such awards are mostly reserved for strikers who score goals to help their teams win matches and championships.

But whatever expectations were placed on the player did not materialise as he left the country to pursue a professional career in Belgium a year after being crowned Kenya’s best.

His move to Belgium began a restless period for once top midfielder and in 2013 found himself in Greece and returned to the local league a year later.

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Short spells in AFC Leopards and South Africa followed before he left for another stint in the middle-east all in the period of two years. Last season he returned to Sofapaka and is now back at his former club Mathare United.

It is at Mathare United that Kimani appeared to have rediscovered his former self and is responsible for having helped the team stay at the top of the log going into this weekend’s matches.

Since returning to the slum boys, he has been coach Francis Kimanzi’s first choice and the experience gathered while away stands out as he looks set to help Mathare United win their first Kenyan Premier League (KPL) title since 2008.

Left winger Kevin Kimani of Mathare United FC drible against Chemelil FC during KPL match at Kasarani Stadium on Saturday Dec 8, 2018. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Mathare United chairman Bob Munro is excited to have the midfielder back in his team.

“He is a key player in our squad and we are glad he opted to come back despite receiving better offers elsewhere,” he said.

Enock Agwanda is one player who has staged a comeback to the local league. Stints at Sofapaka, Bandari and Gor Mahia remain the hallmarks of his long career. His return to Sony Sugar last season was taken as slipping back considering the previous clubs he had played at.

Agwanda rejoined the sugar millers at a time they were in the relegation zone and helped push them to mid-table, and won himself the LG player of the month award.

Sony Sugar striker Enock Agwanda, winner of SJAK SportPesa best Kenyan Premier League player of the month for July. [Standard Sports]

Former Harambee Stars captain Dennis Oliech is perhaps the biggest catch after he returned to the SportPesa Premier League.

Oliech played in the local league 15 years ago when he featured for Mathare United. He then left for professional stints.

 

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