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Asking Origi to ditch Belgium for Kenya is pushing luck too far

Belgian-born Kenyan footballer Divock Origi recently hit the headlines in European newspapers after it was reported that top English Premier League sides Arsenal and Liverpool were eyeing him.

There is debate on whether the 19-year-old (below) should play for our national team, Harambee Stars. Proponents want coach Adel Amrouche to draft the youngster but others feel he should play for Belgium.

I believe the decision lies with him. Origi should not be rushed but be left to weigh his options and make an informed choice.

Wrong move

Making a wrong move could be disastrous but if he gets it right, he could become one of the top footballers in the world.

Origi, who turns out for French Ligue 1 side Lille, is the son of former Kenya international striker Mike Okoth.

He began his career at Racing Genk’s youth academy.  He represented Belgium at the U15 to U19 levels.

Belgium has thriving football academies that helped nurture Origi’s talent. But had he been in Kenya, the situation would have been different. We are still miles away from functioning structures such as those in the developed world.

So why should he play for Kenya and not Belgium that has made him? Is Harambee Stars the right platform for him to make a mark on international football?

Although it is every footballer’s dream to play for their national team to the highest level, I doubt whether it would be a good move for Origi to choose Harambee Stars. Our national team lacks punch, drive and a clear vision.

Belgium will be at this year’s World Cup in Brazil but Harambee Stars shall be mere spectators because they did not qualify.

Origi’s uncle, Austin Oduor, a former Harambee Stars and Gor Mahia captain is coy about his nephew revoking his Belgian passport for Kenyan colours. He wants him to hone his skills before making a decision on whether to play for Kenya or not.

Former Harambee Stars coach Zedekiah Zico Otieno best captures my thoughts.

“There is a huge difference in the way European  teams manage football and how we do things here. We cannot expect to lure such talent as Origi unless we change the way we conduct business in Kenya,” he said.