Olunga eager to surpass last season's goals

Kenyan international Michael Olunga in the Japan J2 League. [Reuters]

Harambee Stars striker Michael Olunga has set his sights on surpassing last season’s goal tally for his club Kashiwa Reysol when the J1 league resumes. 

The Japanese top flight was halted by the coronavirus in February, just one match into the 2020 season with Olunga finding the back of the net twice as his side started life in the top tier with a 4-2 win over Consadole Sapporo. 

Speaking on KTN Scoreline, Olunga, who scored 27 goals last season to help his team earn promotion from the J2 league, said there are a lot of expectations for him to deliver more. 

“I am an optimistic player who always loves to outperform my previous record. I was looking forward to this season because I intended to produce more than what I did last year,” Olunga said. 

“I just want to give it a good shot this year if we shall be able to resume. At the moment, things have stalled and we don’t know for sure when we are going to resume,” he said. 

The 26-year-old, who has previously played in China, singled out his stint with Spanish side Girona as the best of his career thus far. 

“You could see the level and quality of the game was more mature and the players’ ability in terms of technique; the tempo of the game was quite different and playing against teams like Real Madrid and Barcelona was a good thing for me,” he said. 

With Japan under a nationwide state of emergency until the end of May in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Olunga and his teammates have been working out from home. 

“We cannot have activities involving five or more players. We have to try and figure out the best thing to do while working from home.” 

“We are yet to resume pitch training. We have been training from home through the exercises that the team has been sending.

"We are also using Zoom whereby we log in every morning to have a team work out,” the former Gor Mahia striker said. 

Olunga, who arrived in Japan in 2018, said one of the challenges he has been facing in the Asian country is language barrier since he is the only English-speaking player at Reysol. 

“What matters is your sacrifice and effort because everybody is out there to see the outcome.” 

The lanky forward has established himself as a fan favourite at Kashiwa Reysol, a club which is currently second on the J1 league standings. 

“I got confidence as the team believed in me from the Sports Director to the fans; everybody loved me,” said Olunga, who scored two goals at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt. 

He further urged his Harambee Stars teammates who play in the Kenyan Premier League to remain united during this period. 

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