Michael Olunga

Any young Kenyan football who has aspirations of becoming a striker later in his career would like to be Michael Olunga.

Such is the impact the 27-year-old has made in his career that has seen him represent five clubs since starting his professional sojourn with Swedish side Dujardens in 2016. In that period, Olunga has bagged 93 goals in 138 appearances.

The player has started this season on some brilliant form for his side Al Duhail where he currently sits on top of the Qatari top goalscorers charts with 12 goals.

“I attribute the success to hard work and staying focused even when you think everything is lost. It’s about believing you are capable of achieving great things and doing wonders on the pitch,” Olunga told Fifa.com in an interview in 2020 after being named the Most Valuable Player in the Japanese J1 League.

In the year, World football Governing body FIFA named him as one of the most clinical strikers alongside Cuban Marcel Hernandez, Kasper Junker of Denmark, Ramiro Rocca or Argentina, and Rauno Sappinen of Estonia. The recognition came after Olunga recorded a record of 28 goals in 32 matches for Kashiwa Reysol; a feat that saw him bag the top scorers gong alongside an MVP award before moving to his current station Al Duhail of Qatar.

So was this a rare feat or something he did since his early days?

Olunga has had a record of scoring goals wherever he has been. After graduating from the famous Liberty Sports Academy, run by former Harambee Stars coach Jacob ‘Ghost Mulee’, Olunga’s first taste of serious football came with Tusker FC in 2013 while he was still in school.

He was joining a team that has just won the Kenyan Premier League title and it was going to be hard to break straight away into the first team. He was to manage three goals in 15 appearances for the brewers before moving to Thika United a year later; a club that was known for youth development.

It is at Thika where Olunga showed his true colors with more game time coming his way. he was to finish the season with nine goals in 26 appearances. With Liberty feeling he was ready for the big stage, a loan move, just as he had at Tusker and Thika, to Gor Mahia ensued.

With better players at his disposal, Olunga was to bag 29 goals in 27 apps for the Kenyan giants before securing a move to Swedish side Djugardens IF. It was a rapid improvement for a player who had been billed to fill the boots of the retiring Dennis Oliech.

Since 2016, the player has been on an improving spiral but rarely spends time with one club. In the one season he spent with Djugardens, he bagged 12 goals in 27 appearances. He was to move to China with Guizhou securing his services; this is the club where Olunga failed to replicate the scoring form everyone was accustomed to as he only bagged two goals in the nine games he featured in.

A loan move to Laliga side Girona ensued in 2017 and he managed three goals (all coming in a game against Las Palmas); the Kenyan only managed 144 appearances before shifting to Japan with Kashiwa Reysol.

Thus far, it is Reysol that Olunga shined the most. In his first season with the Japanese side, he bagged three goals in ten appearances as they were relegated. While in J2 with the same team, he was to go and score 27 goals in 300 appearances to help his side to promotion. On getting back to the Japanese top flight, he bagged 28 goals in 32 appearances to secure a move to his current station Al Duhail.

He came midway through last season for his side and still managed six goals in 9 appearances and continued with the streak this season where he has bagged 12 goals in seven games.

Now the captain of the Kenyan national team Harambee Stars, the player has had 19 goals since his debut in 2015. While Kenya re out of contention of the 2022 World Cup, Kenya surely has one of the top marksmen in the game currently who would walk in any league and bang goals as previously proved.

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