Football Football

Mauritius win is our turning point – Olunga

Harambee Stars forward, Michael Olunga celebrate after scoring his first senior goal against Zambia during their 2017 AFCON qualifier on September 6. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya.

NAIROBI, October 8 – Harambee Stars forward Michael Olunga believes their 5-2 victory over Mauritius in the 2018 World Cup pre qualifier is a turning point for the team after a series of poor performance.

The Gor Mahia striker who was speaking on Thursday when the team arrived home to prepare for Sunday’s return leg at Kasarani Stadium, is hopeful they will replicate the same performance.

“We have started well and we want to build on that. We want to forget the bad run that we have been having for a long time and we want to take the win as a stepping stone for this campaign.

“Hopefully we will post good result on Sunday,” the 21-year-old Engineering student from Technical University of Kenya, underscored.

Olunga, who scored his second international senior goal to wrap up Stars victory in Mauritius, pointed out team work made it possible for their success contrast to when they lost 2-1 to Zambia at home in the 2017 Africa Nations Cup qualifiers.

“It was a tough game but we came knowing we had to win for our nation and fans. We put a good effort and at the end of the day the result was positive. Everyone worked according to the coach instruction.

“The plan was to score early and this time round we defended as a unit because in our past games, we have been scoring early but end up conceding,” said, the lanky forward.

Head coach Bobby Williamson who finally got his first competitive win since replacing Belgian Adel Amrouche, does not intend to change his winning squad after utility players, keeper, Arnold Origi (Norway’s Lillestrome) as well as defenders, David ‘Calabar’ Owino (Zambia’s Zesco United) and Brian Mandela (South Africa) missed out.

However, the Scotsman was disappointed the team had little time to prepare after skipper and Southampton midfielder, Victor Wanyama, Belgian based duo of winger, Ayub Timbe and midfielder Johanna Omolo and Azam forward Allan Wanga arrived on the eve of the match.

Williamson, hopes to start early groundwork if they advance for the next round where Cape Verde who were at the 2015 AFCON awaits for another two legged tie before the winner entering to the pool draw to begin proper journey to Russia World Cup.

“The players performed well because Mauritius didn’t know more about us. We wanted to score an away goal and to my beyond dreams we got five. I’m disappointed we conceded two that we could have prevented but there is something to learn from that.

“It’s always great to win away from home because it’s hard to achieve in this continent. The boys conducted the business professionally but what concerns me is having players turning up before the game especially when playing away,” the former Uganda Cranes tactician, stated.

“The guys who missed might be left out because I have a young team the likes of Omolo, Olunga and Kevin Amwayi. It’s good we have people challenging for positions, Owino, Mandela and Jacob Keli never made it but these boys stood out,” Williamson declared.

-Wanyama urge-

Wanyama who played a big role in midfield urged his charges not to down play their opponents but to go out strong in the return leg.

“The job is not yet done since there is still a game to play on Sunday. We want to work hard and improve as a team. Everyone is willing to help each other and hopefully we can take game by game and make it to the group stage.

“We had coordination between midfield and strikers and created a lot of chances that could have seen has score more goals. We urge fans to turn out and we will give them what they deserve,” Wanyama, who linked up with the team after the Saints 3-1 win over Chelsea in the English Premier League, underlined.

Stars proceeded for a two day residential camp before taking on Mauritius who will need four goals to overturn the deficit.

At home Stars will be seeking for their first home win since May 2014 when Omolo’s thunderbolt saw them narrowly beat minnows Comoros 1-0 in their 2015 AFCON pre qualifier at Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium.