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Otieno: No ill-feelings despite neglect by FKF

FOOTBALL By Rodgers Eshitemi | May 21st 2020
Harambee Stars Philemon Otieno in the match against Ghana during African Cup of Nations Qualifier match at Moi Sports Centre Kasarani on Sept 8, 2018. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Kenya and Gor Mahia defender Philemon Otieno maintains he will always be ready to defend the national flag despite ill-treatment by Football Kenya Federation (FKF) after suffering a knee injury while doing duty for Harambee Stars.

Having been left on his own, the Gor Mahia defender had to raise over Sh1 million to cater for the surgery of his torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and rehabilitation.

Recounting how he was drained both mentally and financially by the injury, Otieno paid tribute to Harambee Stars captain for speaking up on his behalf and the entire team.

“Honestly, I was drained both mentally and financially by the injury. I thank God for everything and the most important thing is I’ve fully recovered. But I want to put the record straight today.  I sustained the injury (knee) during the Chan game against Tanzania (Chan) and not in Egypt or Gor Mahia as alleged.  There is no way someone can pick you in the team when you are unfit or injured,” Otieno, who resumed training in February, told Standard Sports.

“Whatever Wanyama (Victor) said is absolutely true. I personally looked for him and talked about the matter. He promised to make follow up with the federation, but at the end of the day this is my career and I couldn’t wait for long yet I was in pain. I didn’t want to be caught-up in the blame game between FKF and Gor Mahia. What I wanted was to undergo the procedure and get back to the pitch.

He added: “I’ve no problem playing for Harambee Stars again. I can’t turn down a national team call up because of what happened. If all goes well and I perform to my level best, I will always be ready to represent my country. I have no ill feelings towards the federation.”

Otieno was at the centre of controversy between Gor Mahia and the federation over his treatment after damaging his ACL while playing for the Harambee Stars in the African Nations Championship (Chan) qualifier against Tanzania at Kasarani Stadium on August 4.

While K’Ogalo insisted it was FKF’s responsibility to cater for Otieno’s medical expenses, the federation maintained that the utility player had arrived in camp with an injury.

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Even as he rubbished of claims that he rushed to the media against Nick Mwendwa’s wish, Otieno thanked Gor Mahia management for giving him a chance to revive his career by extending his contract.

“The federation told me they didn’t have money and at that time Gor Mahia were also struggling after SportPesa withdrew their sponsorship. So, it was a difficult moment for me and I didn’t have anywhere to run to. I had to use my money because from the look of things, the situation could have worsened,” he said.

“I told myself, if they decide to refund me the money I spend in future well and good, but I will not demand it from them. What I’m focusing on right now is to put my career back on track. I can’t wait to get back to action.”

Harambee Stars Wanyama tried to intervene, but FKf would hear none of it.  “I sought for assistance from the Kenya Football Welfare Association (Kefwa) and the likes of Michael Olunga, Ayub Timbe, Joseph Okumu, Aboud Omar, Francis Kahata, Johanna Omolo and Joash Onyango to undergo surgery at Ladnan Hospital,” Otieno said.

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