Kashiwa Reysol’s Michael Olunga has linked up with his Harambee Stars teammates in France after being released by his Japanese side. Olunga arrived at Harambee Stars’ training camp in France on Thursday.
Football Kenya Federation (FKF) seemed to have triumphed in a club versus country row involving Michael Olunga, after his club Kashiwa Reysol offered assurances that they will release the Harambee Stars lead striker for international duty on Wednesday. FKF Boss Nick Mwendwa told Business Today that Olunga is now with his teammates at the camp.
It was earlier feared the Kenya’s front-man would miss the continental tournament as Kashiwa Reysol had supposedly rejected his request to feature for his National team at the African Cup of Nations (AFCON).
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After Jesse Were failed to make the call up, Olunga is the trusted striker to bag in the goals at the tournament. The immediate option would have been Allan Wanga but the Kakamega Homeboyz striker was dropped from the squad.
Harambee Stars coach Sebastien Migne had contemplated dropping Olunga from his 27-man squad which is training in France. Migne is said to have mapped out an elaborate training program for each of his players in a bid to gauge their fitness and fine tune the technical and tactical formations ahead of Kenya’s Group ‘C’ assignments at the Africa Cup of Nations versus Senegal, Algeria, and Tanzania.
In fact, the French tactician recently rejected a request by Harambee Stars captain Victor Wanyama to rest for four days before linking up with the national team. Wanyama was an unused substitute as his English side Tottenham Hotspurs lost 2-0 to Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League final on Saturday. He arrived in France on Tuesday evening.
However, now that Olunga has been released, the Harambee Stars front-line can now be termed complete. The Kashiwa Reysol striker is the most trusted Harambee Stars goalscorer as Kenyans, who refer to him as ‘Engineer’, feel confident when he is leading the team’s attack.
The 25-year-old attacker has been a key player in Harambee Stars’ AFCON qualification campaign. He scored a stunning screamer against Ethiopia at the Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani to put Kenya ahead in the first half of the match.
Olunga’s story is identical with former Captain Dennis Oliech’s story. An 18-year-old Oliech was the biggest player in Kenya’s last AFCON appearance in 2004. 15 years later, Olunga plays part in Kenya’s next AFCON appearance.
[read: Harambee Stars AFCON opponents release blockbuster squads]