Olunga hails family, friends after SOYA glory
Kenyan football luminary Michael Olunga could not hide his excitement after being named the Most Outstanding male sports personality of the year during the 2020 SOYA Awards over the weekend.
Olunga and World Half Marathon record holder Peres Jepchirchir bagged the men and women’s awards respectively during the awards ceremony held in Naivasha.
And as the pleasant windfall came to his attention, Olunga immediately took to his social media platforms to heap praises on those who played even the slightest role in shaping his path to stardom.
“Happy to be named the outstanding sports personality of the year at the SOYA 2020. I thank God for all His blessings. Thanking my family, teammates and everyone who, in one way or another helped me achieve this feat,” said Olunga.
The mercurial forward, who kicked off his glittering journey at Liberty Football Academy owned by national team tactician Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee, was feted in absentia during the annual event that took a slightly different approach this time round.
The decision wasn’t surprising though, given Olunga has undoubtedly marked the last couple of years of his stellar career with exceptional performances on the pitch.
On December 22, 2020, the 26-year-old alumnus of Upper Hill High School was named the Most Valuable Player in the Meiji Yasuda J-League.
The development came a couple of days after the forward bagged the Golden Boot Award, having netted 28 times in 34 league matches for Kashiwa Reysol, with all but one of these goals coming from open play.
His splendid exploits in Asia secured him a big move to Qatari Premiership side Al Duhail SC, where he has stamped authority having already put the ball away four times only a month into his contract.
He netted a hat-trick as Al-Duhail SC thrashed Al-Ahli Doha 6-0 in the Emir Cup Round of 16.
That notwithstanding, local fans have hardly had a chance to celebrate his goals of late due to his absence from the national team after he missed out on the Harambee Stars’ Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers doubleheader against Comoros due to Covid-19 containment measures.
All eyes will be on him as the national team takes on Egypt, at home, on March 22, 2021, and Togo, away, on March 30, 2021, in the final rounds of the 2022 AFCON Qualifiers.
2022 World Cup qualifiers have also been lined up between June and November, this year.