Kenyan international Michael Olunga’s mega-money move to Qatar Stars League champions Al Duhail SC has generated mixed reactions from football stakeholders across the country.
The 26-year-old Harambee Stars assistant captain joined the seven-time Qatar champions following his impressive performance with Kashiwa Reysol in the Japanese top tier, last season.
Kashiwa have reportedly accepted a bid of about seven million Euros (Approximately Sh933 million) from Duhail.
Olunga opened another chapter in his glory-laden career when he became the first African to claim the Most Valuable Player in the J1 League season, where he also won the golden boot after scoring a staggering 28 goals last season.
The social media was awash on Monday night with news that the former Gor Mahia and Djurgårdens IF forward has arrived in Doha to seal the lucrative deal after his photo in a Duhail jersey was leaked on Instagram.
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While a section of fans felt that Olunga should either have played for another season in Japan or returned to a competitive league in Europe, Harambee Stars coach Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee and his predecessor Francis Kimanzi believe this is a personal achievement for the 2015 Kenyan Premier League player of the year.
“I think it’s a win-win situation for everybody involved because Olunga has already done his part in Japan and it is only him who understands the implication of that move,” Mulee told Standard Sports.
“But from a Harambee Stars’ perspective, it is good because he used to fly for so many hours to come and do duty for the national team and now he’s only four hours away from home hence reducing the time and fatigue he was experiencing before. Then of course, Qatar will be hosting the 2022 World Cup and that’s good to be playing in a high-profiled country.”
“In terms of business, it makes some economic sense for him because he is not getting any younger. So, I think he needs to make a move that will benefit him.”
“Olunga has been a very good ambassador for Kenya in every country he has played in. People remember you more only for the good thing you do and I believe he has opened doors for other Kenyans in Japan.”
For Kimanzi, Olunga has come of age and it is good for him to seek a new challenge.
“We can’t say that’s a bad move because sometimes it depends with the maturity of a player. There is a time a player becomes so mature that even if he goes to another league, he will continue performing well. We have seen that happen in Europe with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovi? returning to Seria A after short stints in other leagues. It all depends on the player’s maturity of the game and his manager,” said Kimanzi.
“The level of competition will be totally different from what he faced in Japan. Therefore, as far as I’m concerned, this is an individual achievement for Olunga and he has shown he has the maturity to go and play in another league. Maybe he will be a gem there and prove us wrong.”
Kimanzi’s sentiments were echoed by Harambee Stars captain and Montreal Impact midfielder Victor Wanyama, who said Olunga is mature enough to make the right decision.
“Olunga knows what’s next in his career.”