NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 26 – Former Mathare United midfielder Eric Johanna is an elated man after finally landing a chance to play in Europe after three years plying his trade in the Kenyan Premier League.
Johanna who is still training with his former club has signed a contract with Swedish third tier side Vasalund IF and is only awaiting a visa before relocating to Solna Municipality in Stockholm, where the club is located.
“I feel so happy because this is something that I have worked on for long and I dreamt of achieving. It is a huge challenge and when I got that chance, I could not say no. It is a step in the right direction and I am hoping I will improve my football there,” he added.
The 2015 Kenyan Premier League midfielder of the year had gone for trials in Sweden midway through last season with top tier side AIK Fotboll but was unsuccessful. He has however landed a second chance and has vowed to make it count.
He believes his three week experience in the Scandinavian country last year will come in handy and he will not find it rough adapting to a new environment.
“It is a new country with a different culture and different weather, but I don’t believe it will be tough adapting. I was there last season and I kind of got used to how things are done. I love challenges personally and I will take this with both hands,” the midfielder added.
Johanna has thanked his former club Mathare United, saying the experience he has picked training and playing for the ‘Slum Boys’ has been vital in his career growth.
“I have played for Mathare for the last three seasons and they have played a huge role in getting me where I am. Were it not for Mathare no one would have known of a player called Johanna,” he opined.
His coach Francis Kimanzi will now be left with the headache of replacing him especially after playing a central role in the club’s run up to finishing 7th in the league last season.
Kimanzi has also lost four other key players in goalkeeper Robert Mboya and striker Duke Abuya who have joined Kariobangi Sharks as well as defender Robinson Kamura and midfielder Whyvonne Isuza who signed for AFC Leopards.
The tactician has replaced the departing players with youthful ones and he keeps hope they will enable the team perform even better in the new season.
Mathare have promoted four players from their title winning Under-20 team. Defender Martin Ongori, midfielder David ‘Messi’ Owino, Ahmad Ahmed and John ‘Mavado’ Mwangi will be part of the senior team roaster in 2017.
They have also signed midfielder Roy Okal from Ushuru FC and goalkeeper Levis Opiyo from Western Stima.
Also joining the side are youngsters Tyson Odhiambo (Dandora All Stars), Mark Kioko (Betway Talent Search), Abubakar Keya (Libverty Academy), Elijah Mwanzia (Coast Stima) and Tyson Otieno (Baba Dogo United).
Mathare will play Ulinzi Stars in a friendly match on Saturday at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos with Kimanzi set to weigh in on how much his team has gained in the last three weeks of pre-season training.