NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 17- Harambee Stars defender David ‘Cheche’ Ochieng would have put his feet into the Swedish top tier in 2016 when he almost signed for IF Djugardens, but a last minute hitch saw the move tumble off.
Ochieng had trained with the Stockholm based club for two weeks alongside striker Michael Olunga and was destined to pen a deal, but all that came tumbling down like a pack of cards.
“It was disheartening and discouraging to say the least. I had stayed for close to a year without competitive action and this was it for me. It was a dream to play in Sweden because of the exposure and competitiveness that it brings,” Ochieng said in a candid interview with Capital Sport.
Prior to travelling to Stockholm for trials with Djugarden, Ochieng who had previously played for Saudi Arabian side Al Tawoon had also trained with Aalborg BK in Denmark and the motivation of playing in Europe had pushed him to give his best.
But when the two options that had opened up for him dried up, he was left a frustrated man. He ultimately landed a club in the North American Soccer League, turning out for New York Cosmos.
“Cosmos was a great place for me because it gave me an opportunity to settle down and depart from the frustration of missing out on Sweden. I also gradually regained my form and I can say it is that period in USA that made me re-focus,” the defender, formerly with Tusker and AFC Leopards said.
“Also, there were people to encourage me especially Victor (Wanyama) who literally held my hand during that period and urged me not to give up and things would work out perfectly,” the center-back added.
Two years down the line, he returns to the same city that almost accepted his figure but this time, he has joined another outfit, recently promoted IF Brommapojkarna.
This round, he never went for trials and he says all this is a product of tough patience and hard work.
“I was excited when I received that call from my agent and straight away I knew this was a good move for me. Sweden is very competitive because there are opportunities for the Champions League and the Europa League,” Ochieng noted.
Bromma were recently promoted from the second tier and Ochieng says he wants to ensure the club retains its top flight status while his long term target is to venture into European football.
“The club’s ambition is to remain in the league as they were just promoted the other day and they have made that clear with me. I will do my best at the club to see that we perform well and even surpass the targets set for us,” the defender noted.
“I have trained with them for a few days now and I already feel very comfortable. The training is good, the team-mates are really cool as well and they are people who encourage each other to work hard,” further explained Ochieng.
He will join compatriot Eric Johanna who joined the club in December after scaling from the third tier where he had featured for IF Vassalund for the whole of last season.
Most pundits see Ochieng’s move as a positive one especially for his place in the national team. The NASL’s future was at stake after the American soccer authorities revoked their Division II sanctioning last year.
Also, the league will be switching to align with international calendar, taking the August to May format. This would have meant that NASL teams would have had no competitive league action until August 11, the protracted start date.