Kenyan international Michael ‘Engineer’ Olunga appears to have been a cult hero at almost all clubs he has turned out for.
From record Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia to Djugardens IF in Sweden, Girona in Spain and J1 League’s Kashiwa Reysol, Olunga, 26, has left a legacy there.
Though Olunga led Harambee Stars to the 2019 Africa Nations Cup for the first time in 15 years, he feels playing at the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar will leave quite an imprint at his national team fans.
Kenya is in Group E of the World Cup qualifiers alongside Mali, Uganda, and Rwanda.
“Every single player dreams of playing in the World Cup,” Olunga told FIFA.com.
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“If you look at these teams, Uganda and Mali were at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, and they progressed to the Round of 16, too, while we were eliminated after the group stage. If you look at it that way, we are one of the weaker teams in the group.
“But football is changing and each and everyone has the opportunity to play home and away, so you have the same advantages as your opponents in a sense.”
Olunga was part of the 2015 Gor Mahia invincible squad where he won the KPL best player award after scoring 19 goals.
He then moved to Swedish top tier side IF Djurgarden and netted 12 goals before joining Girona on loan from Guizhou Zhicheng in 2018.
Olunga bagged a hat trick against Las Palmas in a span of 22 minutes to become the first African to score a hat trick in the Spanish top division on debut.
He then signed for Kashiwa Reysol in 2018 and netted staggering 32 goals in over 40 appearances to help them earn a promotion back to the topflight football, just one year after being relegated.
Olunga set a record in J2 League after scoring eight times in his side’s 13-1 victory over Kyoto Sanga last year.
He has since then become a cult hero at Reysol celebrating with the Kenyan flag as well as singing the famous ‘Jambo Kenya! Hakuna Matata’ with fans after scoring.
“Now when anyone in Kenya hears about the J.League, he or she will have me in their minds,” said Olunga.
“That’s great because I’m also trying to work much harder to promote the J.League in general to the African continent, which is positive for the growth of football in Japan.”
He added: “My chant at Reysol is based on Boney Ms’ ‘Jambo-Hakuna Matata’, a famous Swahili song.
“When the fans made a chant for me they probably googled famous songs in Swahili and found this one! I heard them singing it one game and I liked it because it portrays my culture. Being sung in Swahili it makes me want to give more to the team because I feel the culture. This is why I love the chant.”