Kenyan international Michael Olunga made his debut for Qatari champions Al Duhail on Tuesday, January 12 in a 3-1 defeat to leaders Al Sadd in the Qatar Stars League.
Algeria international Baghdad Bounedjah scored a hat-trick as Al Sadd, coached by former Barcelona star and Spain international Xavi extended their lead at the top of the log by 11 points.
Almoez Ali scored early for Al Duhail through a penalty, but Olunga’s team could not summon enough creativity to grind out a draw.
Olunga, who started the match was replaced by Khaled Mohammed six minutes after the hour mark. He has been handed the Number 26 jersey.
Olunga joined Qatari-based side Al Duhail from Japanese J-League 1 outfit Kashiwa Reysol. The news was made public following a leaked photo from Qatar outlet QSL_Newss, showing the 26-year-old posing donning an Al Duhail jersey and scarf.
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Kashiwa Reysol are reported to have accepted a bid of about seven million Euros (Approximately Sh933 million) from Duhail for 26-year-old Olunga, who finished J-League top-scorer with 28 goals in 32 appearances, earning a historic golden boot, the first ever to be won by an African.
In September last year, Olunga was named the league’s Most Valuable Player (MVP). This after he netted 15 goals in 15 games, propelling the club to fifth position on the table standings.
Al Duhail are seven-time Qatar champions and are currently coached by Frenchman Sabri Lamouchi. They were champions in the seasons 2010–11, 2011–12, 2013–14, 2014–15, 2016–17, 2017–18 and 2019–20).
Al Duhail have also won the Qatar Cup three times (2013, 2015 and 2018).
Olunga, who was reported to have extended his contract with Kashiwa Reysol a month ago earned legendary status in Japan following a prolific goal-scoring season.
Two months ago, Olunga finally got his Twitter handle verified following pressure from Kenyans on Twitter (KOT) under the hashtag #VerifyOlunga.
Olunga had previously pleaded with Twitter to verify him, an issue which, to fans, seemed to take too long. He is among the most-followed Kenyan sportsmen on social media, averaging over 540,000 followers on Facebook and over 60,000 on Twitter.