NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 31 – Utility player Philemon Otieno has refuted claims that he is set to ditch Kenyan premier League champions Gor Mahia, saying he has just recently renewed his contract and will not leave the club which stood by him during his tough injury spell.
Otieno has been out of competitive action since late July 2019 after an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury left him needing surgery.
He has revealed to Capital Sports that he just recently renewed his contract with the reigning league champions.
“I just renewed my contract recently with Gor before the COVID-19 stoppages and I don’t have any plans to leave. The reason I renewed my contract was because of the support they showed me when I was injured. I didn’t think twice of renewing my contract,” Otieno says.
“It was a way of me saying thanks to the club for standing by me at such a difficult period and also just being loyal to the club for all they have done for me.”Philemon Otieno
Otieno who joined Gor from Ushuru FC has been a consistent figure in the starting line-up. Despite being turned into a right back out of lack of options, he wholly embraced the position earning him another permanent slot at the national team.
His injury however slowed down what was a meteoric rise and he admits it has not been an easy journey to recovery.
“It has been very tough especially mentally because the nature of my injury involved a lot of time to recover. From surgery to rehabilitation, physiotherapy and all. It has been really tough for me. It did affect me a lot because it is the first time in my career that I am nursing such an injury,”
“It also came at a bad time when I was at my peak but I have tried to remain positive and cope with the help of the club and coaches as well as my family. They have been really supportive, so I don’t get to feel lonely. Also, this COVID-19 period has been like a blessing in disguise because I have had time to fully concentrate on my recovery,” Otieno noted.
His surgery was delayed after a push and pull between club and country, with both the Federation and Gor Mahia citing financial inadequacies and he was forced to fundraise from family and friends to get the surgery done.
He is now feeling fully recovered and has stepped up his training at the SDG Fitness Centre at the Nairobi City Centre and looks forward to kicking off training with the rest of the squad when the sporting world opens up soon.
“I have had ample time to heal and recover without pressure and I feel I have the energy to compete. It is a huge challenge for a player to be out for a year and come back strong but I feel ready for the task. Looking at the effort I have put in my training and recovery, I will bounce back stronger,” Otieno affirms.
Already, he has his ambitions at club level set with Gor and believes they have what it takes to do well at Continental level as well as defending their title. Despite several departures at the club, Otieno believes they will still be strong.
“I know we will be okay. The management doing everything to put up a strong team.”
He has also disclosed that national team head coach Francis Kimanzi has been constantly in touch to check on his progress and he also looks forward to pull up the Harambee Stars jersey again.