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Multi-talented footballers who changed their positions

FOOTBALL By Rodgers Eshitemi | November 25th 2018
AFC Leopards striker Karim Ndungwa, force to goal keeping duty after the team's keeper boycotted their match KPL against Sofapaka at Nyayo Stadium on June 7, 2015.PHOTO/DENNIS OKEYO

Gor Mahia keeper Oluoch among those who decided to change positions.

Though not uncommon in the game, there are plenty of instances where footballers who started their careers as outfield players end up as goalkeepers or the other way round.

That explains why in the modern football you’ll find select goalkeepers who actually have a good technical ability with sound distribution skills.

For instance, Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson, Burnley’s Joe Hart and AC Milan’s Pepe Reina all started their careers in outfield positions before eventually moving back into goal.

In Kenya, there are a number of players who’ve either switched from the posts to the outfield position and vice versa.

Karim Ndungwa

The Ugandan import, a natural striker, made news on June 9 with heroic performances when he made a series of fine saves to inspire 10-man AFC Leopards to a 1-0 victory over Sofapaka in a Kenyan Premier League match at the Nyayo National Stadium.

A section of Ingwe players led by the goalkeeping trio of Wycliffe Kasaya, Joel Bataro and Ali Kesi made good of their threat to boycott the match over unpaid salaries and bonuses, forcing Ndungwa to wear a different jersey and the gloves.

Though in an unfamiliar territory between the posts, the Ugandan stepped up to the plate to put in a brave and unexpectedly skillful show, saving veteran John Baraza’s penalty and secured the maximum points for his side.

Barnabas Tiema (Unattached)

The immediate former Vihiga United goalkeeper started out as an offensive player at Olympic Academy (Kakamega), but switched to goalkeeping first at Sheywe High and then Mumias Muslim where his goalkeeping skills were honed by then coach Nick Yakhama before joining AFC Leopards in 2009-on completion of his KCSE.

After a four-year spell in the den, Tiema switched his allegiance to Sofapaka where he played as a goalkeeper until late last year when he decided to be a striker once again, coming off the bench to set up Fiston Razak for the lone goal against Western Stima.

He later joined Ushuru for the second half of the 2016 season before moving to Vihiga United. He has reportedly been appointed as the goalkeeper’s trainer for the newly formed Vihiga Bullets  after parting ways with Vihiga United.

City Stars Joshua Mawira(L) with the ball as he pushes away Sofapaka Barnabas Tiema when they played KPL at Nyayo National Stadium on 23/04/16. Sofapaka scored 1-0. PHOTO: JENIPHER WACHIE

Mike Okoth (Former Kenyan international)

The legendary Mike Okoth started out as a goalkeeper at Iterio Secondary School which clinched the national secondary schools football title in 1987. By then, he was playing for Shabana, but in 1988 he became a lethal centre forward before joining Tusker (previously Kenya Breweries) a year later.

In 1992, he moved to Omani Club Boshar and three months later to K.V. Oostende in Belgium. His most successful season was in 1998–99, when his club Racing Genk won the Belgian Pro League. In 2006, at the age of 38, he was still active, although in a lower division league. He scored 18 goals in the 54 appearances he made for Harambee Stars.

Francis ‘Danco’ Ochieng’ (Ulinzi Stars/Former Kenyan international)

He is the only player to have played for the national team both as a striker and a goalkeeper. He started off as a shot-stopper in 2001 with the defunct Mumias Sugar then switched to a striker for one season before going back to the posts.

But in 2008 while at Ulinzi Stars, he again moved from goalkeeping to striking for a year after he was persuaded by the coach following his exploits in the military inter-brigade games. He came off the bench to score a consolation goal in his debut as Ulinzi striker in their 2-1 loss to Nairobi City Stars before hitting a hat-trick against Tusker (3-2) in the second match.

Ochieng’ went ahead to finish as a second runners-up in the race for the golden boot award with 11 goals that season.

He made his maiden appearance as Harambee Stars striker in the friendly against Egypt in 2008.

On returning from injury in 2010, Ochieng went back to the posts and inspired the soldiers to win the KPL title. As a goalkeeper, many still remember him for scoring a free-kick from his half to secure a 1-1 draw against Thika United on March 30, 2014.

Ulinzi keeper Francis Ochieng during their Top 8 match against KCB at Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos on 19-04-2014.DENNIS OKEYO

Boniface Oluoch (Gor Mahia)

He spent the majority of his youth career as an offensive player at Joseph Apudo High School and then Railways FC in the early 2000s. But coming from a footballing family with four goalkeepers, the 27-year-old Kenyan international was convinced by his late brother George Odhiambo, a former Gor Mahia custodian, to wear the gloves.

He joined Black Mamba in 2004 and later moved to KCB for a season before crossing the border to sign a two-year deal with APR of Rwanda.

He was lured back by Tusker and returned to KPL in 2008, but after a six-year stint, Oluoch switched his allegiance to Gor Mahia in 2015.

Francis Onyiso (Ulinzi Stars/ former Kenyan international)

The former Kenya One started life as a flamboyant winger with a tricky left feet but moved between the sticks after he was persuaded by his junior teammates during a friendly match.

“I can tell you for free, Onyiso was a deadly midfielder. One day when we had gone for a friendly match at the barracks, we didn’t have a goalkeeper so we asked him to try and he’s excellent,” Boniface Ambani, a former international told The Standard Sports.

Sofapaka's keeker Barnabas Tiema conceeds a penelty against Tusker during their Top 8 match at Nyayo Stadium on 06-04-2014.PHOTO/DENNIS OKEYO

Victor Onyango (Former Kenyan international)

From his ball skills, nobody could deny that Onyango was an outfield player. He played as a left back in his early career before being converted into a goalkeeper. He went to be one of the best goalkeepers of his generation, representing the national team Harambee Stars in different international matches.

Salim Shaban (Former Sony Sugar/Mumias Sugar)

The former Kenyan international was an excellent shot-stopper at Sony Sugar and defunct Mumias Sugar but played as a striker on occasions in his career.

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