Ali Omija: Kenyan sensation making waves abroad

Kenya's Alphonce 'Ali' Omija (left) featuring for Dhofar in an Omani Professional League match. [Courtesy]

In the bustling world of football where stars are born every moment, there is a new name on the lips of European scouts – Alphonce ‘Ali’ Omija.

The 21-year-old Kenyan defender, currently showcasing his skills with Dhofar in the Omani Professional League, is transforming into a football sensation, far from his roots in the backstreets of Nairobi's Korogocho.

Omija’s journey to professional football began with the renowned Gor Mahia Youth system, where he honed his craft alongside fellow prospects such as Geoffrey Ojung’a, Lloyd Kavuchi, and Richdonald Bolo.

But it was at Kariobangi Sharks where his potential began to crystallise, taking him a step closer to the world stage.

A former assistant coach Gor Mahia Tom Ogweno, who is the current Gor youth team coach, reminisces about Omija's early days.

“He was very disciplined, and that virtue still stands, considering his progression. He was a really promising young defender while he was at Gor Mahia. The only unfortunate thing was that there was no clear transition path for all the splendid talents at the time so different clubs pounced on them,” said Ogweno.

His height and ability on the ball also made him stand out as a ball-playing defender. This discipline and unique skill set have become the cornerstone of Omija's rising fame.

Though his tenure with Sharks was brief, it was there that Ali's defensive prowess – marked by an uncanny ability to read the game and execute clean, stealthy tackles – was sharpened.

These attributes have not only made him a linchpin for Dhofar but also caught the attention of clubs across Europe, where Turkish and Swedish scouts, in particular, have been keenly observing his every move.

Midway through the season in Oman, Omija's impact is undeniable. His vital contributions on the pitch have helped Dhofar claim the seventh spot in the league, preventing goals with the same zeal as he scores them.

This versatility and leadership have inevitably inflated his transfer value to a hefty Sh40 million, as per Transfermarket’s estimations.

The rise of football in the Gulf, which now attracts top-tier talent from Europe, has also cast a spotlight on Omija.

Despite the burgeoning attention, Dhofar Club is understandably reluctant to release their star defender, especially at a time when football in the region is experiencing an unprecedented boom

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