Kariobangi Sharks may be witnessing a major paradigm shift in their football history. The Sharks have earned a great debut to the top tier league, a genesis of greatness to come. But inside the Sharks team, is one man. Described as a free-scoring stalwart, he is on the verge of claiming Kenya Premier League’s golden boot. For the first time in his life, for the first time for Kariobangi Sharks. Masoud Juma is slowly becoming a household name in Kenyan football all thanks to his goal scoring prowess.
Sportika’s Wilma M. sought a conversation with the 21-year-old at the Ruaraka training ground, Nairobi. Clad in his club jacket, Masoud Juma is busy training. Flexing muscles here, skipping, hopping and jumping. Keenly following instructions from his coach. In his mind perhaps, is a dream of getting better by the day.
He is blessed with a venomous, free scoring right-foot, coupled with blistering pace. But Masoud Juma reveals one shocking thing; that he had not played football outside his native County Isiolo- his home town, until the year 2014.
He studied at Uhuru Primary in Isiolo up to class five before joining Tumaini Primary until 2009. He played football in his primary days but he never thought he could one day shine outside Isiolo
“After school I joined Isiolo Youth and at that time the team was playing in the provincial league. I started realizing the importance of football and decided to put in more effort,” he says.
His foggy dream would shape up after he joined Isiolo Barracks Secondary for his O-level studies from which he became part of the Isiolo youth team.
“I then joined Kambakia Christian Centre (KCC) situated in Meru for half season, by then the club was taking part in FKF Division One Zone A Group 1 league; now the National Super League. I then returned to Isiolo Youth for the remainder of the season where we finished at position two,” Masoud Juma narrates.
This development would then see him attract attention of various clubs.
He joined National Youth Talent at Kasarani in March, 2014. Shabana FC coach Gilbert Selebwa who was the academy’s coach by then, was impressed with Juma’s type of play and asked him to join his side Shabana.
“Selebwa asked me to play for the team for the remaining six matches and for the one month I scored five goals. This led to many KPL teams coming for my services,” he says.
It is through Shabana that other doors would open for Masoud. Three months later, he made his Kenya Premier League debut with Bandari FC. Coach Twahir Muhiddin was tasked with shaping a young Masoud Juma.
“The experience was good, it was my first time in KPL and it was a Friday I will never forget. I felt so happy playing in the top flight,” he admits with a sly smile on the face.
He inspired Bandari to the 2015 GOtv Shield glory and bagged the Super Cup in 2016 but moved on to Sony Sugar.
“At Sony I got more playing time compared to Bandari. This enabled me to get to my form and gain more tactics,” he says.
Sharks came in knocking in December, 2016. According to Masoud, many clubs including AFC Leopards approached him. So, what informed his decision to join Kariobangi Sharks?
“I believed in the team. It has the best squad. At sharks I found a family, from the management, technical bench and my fellow players. With such an environment it’s very easy for me to deliver,” he says.
His sparkling form at the Sharks would see him called up to the national team. In June, 2017 head coach Stanley Okumbi named him in the starting squad of the 2019 AFCON qualifier match away to Sierra Leone.
For a player who rose from a pastoralist community, wearing the Harambee Stars jersey was a brought an insurmountable joy to him. Selected ahead of the then firing Stephen Waruru, a section of Kenya fans bitterly protested. Masoud however says that is part of a footballer’s job description.
“It indeed pained me. I felt so bad and even thought of giving up. I however decided to move on as it is part of my career challenges and I thank God for my teammates. They gave me the support I needed,” he says.
When he flew out of the country for trials, Masoud Juma tells Sportika that he had hopes of doing well. However, he failed to make it in two trials; first in Sweden top tier side AIK Football then South Africa’s bigwigs Bidvest Wits .It was a terrible experience, he admits.
“I felt like my career was crushing but I gained courage. Whenever I thought of Michael Olunga’s journey I gained more strength to keep on going. I believe my time is coming.”
Juma recollected himself and went on to score 25 goals in all competitions and tops KPL score chat.
Masoud Juma is an Arsenal fan and dreams to play for the Gunners, especially under Arsene Wenger, though would not mind playing for any other European club.
In Kenya he terms Michael Olunga as his role model but his dream is to get to Lionel Messi’s level.
“Olunga’s perseverance, hard work, commitment and scoring skills inspire me. Lionel Messi is just on his level. His goal scoring tactics are amazing. I love watching him because he inspires me.”
On matters family, Masoud Juma is a married man. And he explains why he missed one of Sharks’ important matches in October.
“I missed our game against Sofapaka on 16th of October because it was my wedding day. I had to because the day was a special day to me,” he says with a joyous smile.
What does Masoud do outside football?
“If am not playing or training, you will find me in my bed sleeping. I don’t like idling or walking around with no reason. I believe what I do outside the pitch is part of my career too.”
The Kenya Premier League season is almost over and Masoud Juma has achieved his dream. A new season would be more than welcome for the technically skilled player.