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History as Kenyan defender Joseph Okumu prepares for West Ham test in Europa League clash

Joseph Stanley Okumu, a defender in Belgium’s Koninklijke Atletiek Associatie Gent (KAA Gent) football club is set to play against West Ham United in the Europa League Cup game quarter final tonight, April 13, 2023.

The 25-year-old Kisumu County born defender will make history as one of a few Kenyan players to feature against an English side.

“The match against West Ham is obviously important for us. We fought to get this far in this tournament and I hope we have a chance to qualify for the next round as well,” said Joseph on April 12, 2023, ahead of the much awaited match.

Gent and West Ham will meet in their UEFA Europa Conference League quarter-final first leg and the match will be played at the KAA Gent Stadium, Ghent. The winners will face Anderlecht in the semi-finals, playing the home leg first.

The match is set to kick off at 19:45 Kenyan time and will be aired live.

Okumu is one of the most popular players in Kenya.

According to Goal, Joseph Okumu attracted attention of top European clubs following his rise from Chemelil sugar to playing internationally. He was among the most wanted defenders in the 2022 transfer window as top clubs such as Arsenal, Bundesliga’s Borussia Dortmund and Serie A side Atalanta, set their sights on him.

Celtic and Rangers also expressed interest in him but he eventually signed with KAA Gent in June 2021.

Joseph Okumu started out his football career at Chemelil Sugar in the Kenya Premier League before he joined Free State Stars, a South African football team in the Premier Soccer League in 2016. Following seven appearances and one season, Joseph made the move to AFC Ann Arbor in the United States of America’s League Two. While in America, his football skills attracted the attention of USL Champions, Real Monarchs, who signed him for the 2018-2019 season. Following 12 appearances, he moved to Swedish Allvenskan side IF Elfsborg where he was the key defender in 34 matches and helping them finish second in his first year.

He also plays for the Kenya National team, Harambee Stars. He played for Kenya against Iran in a friendly match last month, March 2023, in which Iran beat Kenya 2-1.

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