NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 14- Soft spoken Western Stima midfielder Kenneth ‘Junior’ Muguna has warned the best of him is yet to be seen after surprising all and sundry to be named the 2016 Kenyan Premier League player of the year.
Muguna says the two big awards he bagged on Tuesday night will act as a catalyst as he looks to engage in a higher gear in 2017 with his eyes set on a bigger challenge, hinting at a move out of Stima.
“This season, I have not even played my best. Next season, there will be more to come. It is great getting this award because it shows the hard work has not gone to nothing. I really did my best this season and I can say I expected to get something at the end of it,” Muguna said as he savored his glory.
The midfielder has been subject of transfer speculation since the curtains fell on the 2016 season with Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards said to be fighting for his signature.
“At the moment, I have not made a decision, but I would like to go for a bigger challenge. I love challenges. I will look at everything that comes on my plate, whether within or outside the country and I trust I will make a wise decision,” Muguna told Capital Sport.
The midfielder, 20, does not believe the ‘player of the year curse’ will befall him as has done for most other players who end up fading in the next season once they picked the big accolade.
He looks to follow on the footsteps of Michael Olunga who went on to have a successful European debut after moving to Swedish side IF Djugardens in January this year.
“I don’t believe in that. I know the expectations will be so much but I know myself. I believe in hard work and that is what has put me where I am today. This recognition should only spur me to do better. The selectors saw something good in me and gave me the award. I cannot let them down,” he added.
Playing in his debut season in top flight football, Muguna paid tribute to his coach Henry Omino who he says was a big influencer in his performances which were rewarded mid season when he was named the August KPL player of the month.
“I wasn’t afraid of lacking playing time because coach Omino came to the club I was playing for and talked to me personally. He assured me I was coming to play and I was a part of his plans. That is what pushed me every day to work hard. He believed in me when I didn’t have experience,” Muguna added.
He also picked up the midfielder of the year gong ahead of Mathare United’s Whyvonne Isuza and the experienced Humphrey Mieno who finished second and third.
Isuza, playing in his third season of top flight football was excited with his runner up award, dedicating it to his team mates at Mathare who he said worked their socks off to achieve their targets.
“It has been a tough season and coming all the way down here to be awarded is superbly great. We have played as a team and that was a major contributory factor. Next season we should be able to do more and push towards the top three,” Isuza said.
Meanwhile, Patrick Matasi who won the golden glove ahead of Gor’s Boniface Oluoch and Tusker’s David Okello says he earned the award because of patience.
Matasi began the season as Posta’s second choice behind Ian Otieno, but once the latter fell out with head coach Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno the chance opened itself for him.
“Ian was the captain and was chosen ahead of me and I had to accept. I knew my time would come and I kept working hard in training and when it finally came, I took it with both hands. I thank coach Zico and team manager Pascal (Ochieng) because they really encouraged me to work on being the best,” Matasi said.
The former AFC Leopards shot stopper says he will also be patient for a chance in the national team.
“At the moment Boni (Oluoch) is doing very well and I can’t beat my chest and say I will go dethrone him. It is his time now and I will be patient for mine. I know one day, I will don the national team colors. It is my dream,” Matasi admitted.