- The sensational Harambee stars and Kashiwa Reysol forward Micheal Olunga is made of records and his spell in Japan J1 league has been nothing but just resounding success.
He is not only the first Kenyan to play in Japan league but also the first to bag eight goals in a match. J1 league is just a continuation of record-setting he started in his brief spell with Girona in La Liga, Spain.
The towering forward, AKA ‘The Engineer’, moved to Kashiwa Reysol in 2018 and helped them to climb to J1 League. He went on to add on his records as the first Kenyan to play and to score in Japan’s first division. His time with Kashiwa has been astonishingly successful, stealing the show on 24 November 2019, backing 8 goals in 13-1 victory against Kyoto Sanga.
He also acknowledges the change in leadership with the new regime trying to bring new ideas and train the coaches more and bringing in a new aspect of the game.
“Kenyan football has improved over the past few years. The last time (before 2019) that Kenya participated in the Africa Cup of Nations was in 2004. It took us 15 years to get back to the continental showpiece. There was a big gap.” Olunga said.
He has built his name to a greater legend at Reysol that every African player might be proud of in Japan.
“My chant at Reysol is based on Boney M.’s ‘Jambo-Hakuna Matata’, a famous Swahili song. They normally sing it for foreigners when they arrive in Kenya as a welcoming song. They sing to foreigners telling them that Kenya is a peaceful land. Hakuna Matata means there are no problems,” Olunga said.
“When the fans made a chant for me they probably Googled famous songs in Swahili and found this one! I heard them singing it one game and I liked it because it portrays my culture. Being sung in Swahili it makes me want to give more to the team because I feel the culture. This is why I love the chant,” Olunga explained.
And while Olunga grinds during his training every day, he knows that one day he will be reunited with his supporters and they will be able to sing ‘Hukana Matata’ again.