NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 6 – Ulinzi Stars long serving midfielder Stephen Ochollah says he is in the twilight of his playing days and might call time on a glittering career that has spanned slightly over 13 years before the end of the 2017 season.
Speaking to Capital Sport, Ochollah who skippered Ulinzi to the Kenyan Premier League title in 2010 and the KPL Top 8 Cup in 2011 says he feels he has given enough to the team as an active player and it is time he paves way for the young blood in the team who have shown promise.
“Things have changed; there are younger players in the team who are doing well and for me, I feel it’s time to give them a chance to play and showcase their talent. It has been a while since 2003 and it is time I step out. In the next few matches, maybe after the first leg, I will not be on the pitch with the team,” Ochollah said.
He added; “I feel that I am in the last stages of playing and at the moment, I am more than glad to give back by mentoring these players. They are also happy seeing me around and they take my advice, something that motivates me as I head to the exit.”
Ochollah returned to the team after being out on military duty for close to a year and a half. After completing a career advancement course in Nairobi, the midfielder proceeded to a peace keeping mission in Sudan, returning to the country last December.
“When he came back, we looked at him and as a technical bench thought he could still give the team some service. His leadership and hard work on the pitch is what motivated us to enroll him back in the team,” Ulinzi head coach Benjamin Nyangweso said.
Ochollah believes he has given his best for the team and now thinks it is time probably to serve in a different capacity.
“I can say I have had a successful career and I don’t regret anything over the years. Even if I retire in mid-season or at the end of the season, I still have passion for football and I would want to serve in coaching if given a chance,” the midfielder noted.
His coach Nyangweso is also supportive of the idea; “It is his decision to retire and definitely we will sit down once he makes it official and see what role he will play in the team. But who knows, he might be still strong enough and we convince him otherwise,” the tactician posed.
The 31-year-old started his career at Thika United in 2003 where he played until the 2008 season when he was scouted by Ulinzi to join the army. After military training in Eldoret, he joined the team and started playing in 2010 where he was handed the captain’s armband.
He led Ulinzi to their fourth league title and in the same year was named midfielder of the year as well as the second Most Valuable Player of the season. His prowess led him to be named Kenya’s skipper at the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup in Tanzania, but got an injury in the first match.
The thigh strain picked slowed him down heading into the 2011 season, but he was still available to play part as Ulinzi lifted the inaugural Top 8 Cup.
The midfielder sees the same title drive and hunger in the current squad and believes with more hard work, they can be in line to lift a treble for the first time in the club’s 22-year history.
“They (players) are doing a good job and giving their best. With the kind of team and crop of players we have, we are capable of winning a treble. I have faith in the team,” declared the midfielder.