NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 12 – Harambee Stars forward Michael Olunga is confident that his Japanese second tier side Kashiwa Reysol will earn a return back to the top flight after a blistering run in the J2 league.
Reysol who were relegated at the close of last season are currently leading the J2 league with 62 points, seven ahead of second placed Yokohama FC with 11 rounds of matches left to play. The top two teams automatically earn promotion while position 3-6 head to a play-off.
Olunga who joined the side towards the end of last season from Chinese outfit Guizhou Hengfen has been at the centre of Reysol’s rise this season, scoring 14 goals in 28 appearances and topping that cake with the cherry of four assists.
His form over the last month has seen him awarded Reysol’s player of the month.
“I am thankful for the award, it is such a great honor for me as a player,” Olunga told Capital Sport from his base in Kashiwa.
“I believe we can earn promotion this season because we have been in some very good form. We have a solid team and everyone is working hard. I am hopeful we will be back in the J-League,” he stated.
Compared to last season, Olunga has been in sizzling form this season, continuing with his ‘second season’ syndrome where he usually steps up after his first spell with a club.
The forward has credited this to the fact that he joined the team during pre-season and has had more time to gel with the team and understand players more.
“I am glad with my form this season and I think it is all down to hard work. I started pre-season with the team and everything has settled down since then. Hopefully I can maintain this till the end of the season and help the team,” stated the striker.
Olunga received his award just days after returning to Japan, having skippered the national team in last Sunday’s friendly match against Uganda in Nairobi. The striker said he was pleased with the spirit of the team especially with several new players included.
“I think it was a great match for us though we didn’t win. The fact that we had so many new and young players coming in is encouraging because one day, Olunga will not be there, Wanyama will not be there and we will need people to step up,” he stated.
Next focus for him is to ensure Kenya makes a return to the Cup of Nations in 2021 with the qualifiers scheduled to kick off in November with a trip away to Egypt.
“We have two more friendly games in October and hopefully they will give us a chance to strengthen the team further. We have a lot of depth now and I believe we will be good to go for 2021. We are in a fair qualification group and we will give our all to qualify,” the forward added.
Meanwhile, Olunga says he is welcome for a move out of Reysol if a good deal comes on the table, but notes till then, his 100pc effort is on ensuring his team performs well.