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Japan’s Sagan Tosu FC fans go gaga over Dunga

Kenya’s Ismael “Manucho” Dunga has his work cut out at J1 League’s Sagan Tosu after the heroics of his compatriot Michael “Engineer” Olunga last season.

Going by the enthusiastic views of fans of the Japan top-tier football side after Dunga’s first training session on Thursday, they expect the widely-traveled Kenyan to emulate the stirring performance of Olunga who finished the 2020 J1 League as top scorer.

Dunga – also a center-forward like Olunga – signed for Sagan Tosu on January 25, but only began training on Thursday due to Covid-19 protocols.

Being a Kenyan, he is naturally being compared with Olunga, who netted 28 goals for Kashiwa Reysol on his way to clinching the Golden Boot and Player of the Year awards last season.

Olunga subsequently joined Qatar’s Al Duhail on a Sh769.5 million deal on January 12.

“He is finally here! I’m looking forward to the game in the future. I want Dunga to surpass Olunga!” one Sagan Tosu fan tweeted after the club posted photos of the 28-year-old in training along with that of fellow new recruit Chico Ofoedu from Nigeria.

“Sagan Tosu will qualify for next year’s Asian Champions League due to the confluence of Chico and Dunga!” enthused another optimistic fan.

“For the time being, I want you to get in good condition and quickly get used to Sagan’s soccer style,” advised another as @koji88137651 observed that “Tosu becomes the strongest. Please do your best. I expect to see mass production of goals.”

Dunga has played professional football for 10 different clubs in Africa, Europe and Asia. He turned out for Congo United, Sony Sugar, Tusker and Nakumatt in Kenya and also featured for Napsa and City of Lusaka in Zambia.

He has also featured in Greece and Albania. He scored four goals in seven league matches for Vllaznia in the Albanian top league last season before joining Sagan Tosu in a deal worth around Sh9 million.

Sagan Tosu started the 2021 J1 League with three straight wins and kept a clean sheet in their first five matches.

The club has however managed just one victory from their last five matches.