NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 25- After a stellar 2017 season that saw him crowned the Sports Journalists Association (SJAK) Goalkeeper of the Year, Kariobangi Sharks shot stopper John Oyemba’s next target is to earn a call up to the national team Harambee Stars.
Oyemba has described 2017 as a breakout year and hopes he can take the form into the new season and put his feet on a higher platform, that of the national team.
“It has been a great year and being awarded as ‘Goalkeeper of the Year’ was humbling. I was competing with very good goalkeepers most of who have been in the Premier League for a while and to beat them to that award, It was a humbling feeling,” Oyemba said.
“It is a positive step for me and now the only way is up. It is every player’s dream to don the national team colors and for me, that is my next target. I want to continue working hard, keep more clean sheets and hopefully, I achieve that goal,” the shot stopper further stated.
With 16 clean sheets to his name, the most in the league with Patrick Matasi and David Juma both picking 15, it wasn’t such a bad return for a goalkeeper who started off as an assured second starter.
At the beginning of the season, the Premier league newbies had brought on board Robert ‘Boban’ Mboya from Mathare United and with a wealth of experience including a few national team call ups under his belt, there wasn’t much of a debate as to who would man Sharks’ goal as a number one.
But, Mboya’s star never shone as much, and once again, it gave off an opportunity for Oyemba who had helped Sharks get promotion to show his worth.
“When Boban came in, it was like a bar set for me to jump higher. I took the challenge and I knew he (Boban) was a good keeper so to get to number one I needed to work extra hard. When the opportunity presented itself, I took it with both hands and things fell in place for me,” Mboya further explained.
His was a story of rising from the ashes especially with his campaign in the National Super League having started on a low. He started 2016 nursing a serious back problem and it ended up keeping him out for six months.
“It was very heartbreaking for me but once I recovered and was given an opportunity, I decided it was my time to shine. Again, things worked out well and I managed to keep 11 clean sheets as we earned promotion and I think it is that same form I took into the Premier League,” said the keeper.
Apart from his own personal ambitions, he wants to see his club challenge for the KPL title in 2018 having finished third in their debut season.
“As a human being, the only route for growth is doing better each time. We came in with very little Premier League experience and we managed to finish third. We have to better that performance next season and I believe we should be considered as title challengers,” further added Oyemba.
Sharks begin their campaign away in Bungoma taking on Nzoia Sugar on February 3.