How long will wandering Olunga stay in Japan before packing his bags?
How long will Kenyan striker Michael Ogada Olunga stay at Kashima Reysol in Japan? Anyone who has followed the 24-year-old’s football journey for the past five years will scratch his head finding answers to this question.
Ever since he completed his O-level studies at Upper Hill School in 2012, the left-footed lanky striker, who entered into a three year deal with Japanese side last week, has been on the move barely after 12 months.
For novices, Olunga joined Tusker in 2013 on a one year loan deal from Liberty Sports Academy scoring three goals in 15 appearances in all competitions.
At 19 years, it was obviously going to be a herculean task benching the likes of lethal man Jesse Jackson Were, Ismail Dunga, Moses Arita and Andrew Tololwa, the team under the tutelage of Coach Robert Matano.
In search of enough playtime, he switched to Thika United at the start of 2014 for a transfer fee of Sh200,000.
Deemed as a surplus with the brewers despite winning the 2013 Kenyan Premier League (KPL) Top 8 and clinching the Golden Boot in the KPL Under-19 tourney on five goals, Olunga was warmly welcomed at the Thika based outfit, then handled by John Kamau who transformed him to a dependable forward.
In that season, he scored nine goals in 26 of the 30 league games. It’s here he unsuccessfully tried out with South African side SuperSport United twice.
First, he was invited for a two day training with the side and handed SuperSport the 2014 Gauteng Cup by convertingthe decisive penalty in a 4-3 penalty shootout win over Mamelodi Sundowns in July 2014 before returning six months later for a five day test.
LOAN TO GOR
Champions Gor eventually grabbed him for a season-long loan deal from Liberty in January 2015. Under Coach Frank Nuttall, Olunga struggled to make the cut in the first team but when the door finally opened, he formed a dangerous frontline with Victor Abondo and Meddie Kagere scoring 19 league goals in 27 appearances.
Overall, he netted 29 in 40 appearances for Gor Mahia that season including the five goals that earned him another Golden Boot at the 2015 Cecafa Kagame Cup as they finished runners up to Azam FC.
He had another fruitless trial with South African outfit Bidvest Wits while at Gor but in January 2016, he was on his way to Sweden for trials with top flight club Djurgardens before signing a four year contract a month later.
Again, the playtime hurdle hit him struggling to break into coach Per Olsson’s first eleven for five straight months.
Olsson’s sacking was a blessing in disguise for the 2016 KPL Most Valuable Player (MVP) after Djurgardens appointed Englishman Mark Dempsey in his place and the former Manchester United midfielder enthrusted Olunga upfront following the sale of Liberian hitman Sam Johnson to Chinese side Wuhan Zall.
In a span of four months, Olunga headlined Stockholm papers with his predatory skills banging 12 goals in as many games and named the league’s runners up young player of the year 2016.
True to his records, he was on the move to Chinese club Guanzhou Hengfeng Zchicheng after a year in the Scandinavian country for a record Swedish transfer fee of Sh50o million.
Lack of playtime for the third time impeded his stay in China where he amassed 764 minutes of playtime in nine games with two goals thence prompting a loan switch to Spanish La Liga side Girona on September 1, 2017.
For a season in Spain, he managed a paltry 426 minutes of playtime in 14 out of 38 La Liga matches netting three goals, a historic hat-trick against Las Palmas in January 2017.
Barely after a year, he is on his sixth move in as many years that retrieves our question, how long will he stay at Japanese side Kashima Reysol?
His come-and-go story aside, Kashima coach Nozomu Kato, 48, has got a man who can undoubtedly become his team’s attacking focal point in their struggle to avoid relegation this term.
Olunga is dangerous in front of goal given room can utilize his deft left foot and height to his employers’ advantage no wonder the Japanese splashed approximately Sh300 million for the striker boasting of 16 goals in 31 international matches for Harambee Stars. With his famous hashtag “God Above All”, we wish him the best!