NAIROBI, Kenya, April1- Harambee Stars captain, Dennis Oliech has shockingly
announced his immediate retirement from international football to focus on his club
career at French Ligue 1 side, AJ Auxerre.
The stunning development comes three days after the team he captained to victory
against Angola last Saturday lost 3-0 to Nigeria in a match the country’s record
international goal scorer missed after jetting out to return to his club.
“This is the hardest decision I have made but I feel I have done enough for my country.
I’m enjoying much playing time at my club and I want to cement this hence the decision I
have taken to retire from international football,” Oliech said from his base in France.
He added: “I feel that enough is not being done to raise the standards of football in
Kenya especially where the national team is concerned. Players have been suffering and
for me, it is paining to see all the efforts we put in the team going to waste due to bad
Auxerre, who featured in the UEFA Champions League this season where Oliech
became the second Kenyan player after Inter Milan’s MacDonald Mariga to feature in the
lucrative competition are flirting with relation, lying only one place above the drop zone
in Ligue 1 with 32 points, three above 18th placed AS Monaco.
“We need to pull together and help our team avoid relegation. Last season, we almost
won the league but finished third and we played in the Champions League. I think
focusing on that competition cost us our concentration in our league.
“With African Nations qualifier matches coming in June when we will be trying to save
our season, I feel it is time to give back to the club that has given me a good chance to
excel. I was relegated with Nantes three years ago and I do not wish to go through that
pain again,” he expressed.
“I leave the national team with good memories and now I have given the chance to our
young players to make a name for themselves with Harambee Stars. I wish them well and
Saturday’s win over Angola after we went for so long without winning was a present to
all Kenyans,” Oliech stated.
When contacted, a stunned national coach, Zedekiah Otieno, who linked up with his club
side Gor Mahia on Thursday upon return from Abuja stated, “I have to contact the player
to establish what is really going on. You had him promise after Angola that he would do
all what he can to ensure we qualify for the Nations Cup.”
Football Kenya Limited director, Titus Kasuve, remarked, “It is very disappointing for all
of us that he has made this shocking decision but we have to move on. Oliech is not our
only player, he is important, yes but not above the team.”
The decision of Oliech to step down and the suspension of Mariga from Stars next 2012
Nations Cup qualifier away to Angola on the weekend of June 3 to 5 leaves the already
fragile Kenyan team more vulnerable.