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Joash took one for the team, says Olunga

Joash Onyango (left) is consoled by captain Musa Mohammed after receiving a red card during Kenya’s African Cup of Nations Qualifier against Ghana at the Kasarani Stadium on September 8, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 9 – Harambee Stars forward Michael Olunga has lauded Joash Onyango for his performance against Ghana in their 1-0 2019 African Cup of Nations Qualification win on Saturday evening.

The Gor Mahia stopper put up a shift at the heart of defense where he had paired skipper Musa Mohammed, but was shown red on the hour mark after a goal saving tackle on Majeed Warris with the Ghanaian forward through on goal.

“Joash played really well and he took a card for the team. That was a very vital challenge because who knows what could have happened next,” Olunga said as he reflected on the historic win over the four-time African champions.

The forward who turns out for Japanese side Kashiwa Reysol was also full of praise for the local lads who were thrown into the deep end and produced a commendable result especially with the absence of several key players.

Harambee Stars captain Musa Mohammed, midfielders Dennis Odhiambo and Ismail Gonzalez during Kenya’s African Cup of Nations Qualifier against Ghana at the Kasarani Stadium on September 8, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

“They played very well when you are coming to play a game of this magnitude like Ghana and with such a huge crowd behind you, most players fall for that kind of pressure and fail to perform but yesterday, the players took the opportunity and gave their all,” he added.

Among the local lads who shone in the tie include right back Philemon Otieno who however had to limp off injured at the start of the second half.

“I believe this is what we need to see from the local players. When given an opportunity, they come out of their cocoon and show what they are made of,” Olunga noted.,

The victory against the Ghanaians took Stars’ 2019 AFCON qualification desire a notch higher and the performance from the boys was a huge motivator that the days ahead are bright.

Harambee Stars forward Michael Olunga celebrates during Kenya’s African Cup of Nations Qualifier against Ghana at the Kasarani Stadium on September 8, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

“It was a great motivation to pick three points against Ghana who are favorites in the group. No one expected us to win that game but the players believed and worked hard. Everyone gave their 110pc even after we were down to 10 men. We fought with the fans behind us,” Olunga further noted.

Up next in the road to Cameroon are back to back home and away ties against Ethiopia in October and Olunga believes a minimum of four points in these two games will be crucial in keeping the dream alive, qualifying to the Cup of Nations for the first time in close to two decades.

“Ethiopia is a good side and it will not be easy against them especially away where they have many fans. It will not be easy as people think because nowadays in football it doesn’t matter where you play whether home or away. It is important that we give in 100pc and be committed to work hard,” he further stated.

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Stars earned a Sh2mn bonus from the Football Kenya Federation after their win.

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