NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 11 – On his return to the national team for the first time in four years, Arnold Origi has made it clear that he is not back just to accumulate caps but create a lasting legacy with the Harambee Stars.
Origi’s last involvement with the national team was the away trip to Zambia in 2016, in the qualifiers for the 2017 Cup of Nations which Kenya finished bottom of the group.
He put a hold to his national team career as he sorted out his dual citizenship paperwork, having elected to pick a Norwegian passport. But once the paperwork was complete, he made the decision to make a return to the national side.
“All the people that know me always knew and I told them that this chapter was never closed. I was away for reasons beyond my control and now it feels good to be back,”
“Immediately it was clear that I was able to play for the national team because I could get my Kenyan passport back there was no doubt. And when the coach and the Federation thought I was still good enough to do the job, there was no doubt that I would honor the call up,” Origi said.
He says his return is pegged on helping the team earn back to back Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualification and he joins in after two rounds of the 2021 AFCON qualifiers, having missed last year’s tournament in Egypt.
He says the desire to achieve a place in Cameroon in 2022 is driving him to give the best for the team.
“I am not back just to play for the sake of caps. I am here for history. I am here to do something that will be talked about by generations to come. I am not afraid to say I am here for something big. I know it comes with pressure but pressure is good. It’s a challenge that will not only improve me as a player but as a person. I am excited and looking forward to do the job when called upon,” further stated Origi.
The four year difference from his last appearance in national team colors sees him find a new group of players, with only few remaining from the last time.
The 36-year old says he is delighted with the new blood he finds and is optimistic they will play a massive role in seeing the team achieve its set targets.
“There is lots of exciting new talent in the team. I have seen them play because I have been following the league. The belief, confidence and swagger they play with is something really important and will come in handy during this campaign,” stated the keeper.
Looking forward to Wednesday night’s duel against Comoros, the shot stopper expects a tough duel. He was in goal when the two sides last played in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in 2014, Kenya winning the home tie 1-0 and the return fixture drawing 1-1.
“We played them a few years back and seeing their progress as a national team and how ambitious they are is impressive. Looking at their squad and how they are doing things, and how big they want to be in Africa tells you it’s not an easy team,”
“You would be naïve or a fool to think that they are going to be a pushover or the game will be a walk in the park.”
“We are well prepared because we know what they are coming with. The coaches have done their job and it is now up to us as players to deliver on the pitch. It’s a matter of being mentally ready and having that belief and courage,” stated Origi.
He has also affirmed that picking maximum points against the group leaders will be key in aligning Stars to their dream of making it to the next Cup of Nations.
Comoros lead the group with four points after a win and a draw in the first two games while Kenya are second with two, following back to back draws against Egypt and Togo.