Phil Otieno overcomes injury amid COVID-19 break


Phil Otieno overcomes injury amid COVID-19 break
FILE: Gor Mahia's captain Philemon Otieno controls the ball during their Kenyan Premier League match against Nakumatt FC at the Kenyatta stadium in Machakos on August 04, 2018. The match ended 2-2. (PHOTO/Stafford Ondego/Sportpicha)

In Summary

  • Gor Mahia will have their dependable right-back Philemon Otieno available for selection when the KPL club returns to action, after missing his services since mid 2019 due to injury
  • Otieno was playing for Harambee Stars in the African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifier against Tanzania, when he damaged his knee to keep him outside the pitch almost for a year

Gor Mahia will have their dependable right-back Philemon Otieno available for selection when the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) club returns to action, after missing his services since mid 2019 due to injury.

Otieno, whose career threatening injury drew controversy over who exactly was supposed to take care of his hospital bill between Football Kenya Federation (FKF) and Gor, has confirmed to Citizen Digital he is fit and raring to go.

He was playing for Harambee Stars in the African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifier against Tanzania, when he damaged his knee to keep him outside the pitch almost for a year.

Ironically, the utility man who also comfortably plays defensive midfield role, says the halting of the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) and all football activities by the COVID-19 pandemic has given him ample time to rehabilitate fully.

“It’s now nine months since I had a successful surgery and I thank God I’m back to fitness. I was close to returning to the pitch before COVID-19 breakout in the country. I even played in a friendly match just to test how the leg responded, but the break has given me more time to heal without any hurry,” Otieno told.

Despite finding no support from the federation and the club, Otieno says that is in the past and harbours no grudge against anybody.

“I’m ready to play both for the national team when I’m called. What I needed was to heal, and wanted to heal so that I can play. What is of the past is not so important to dwell on if it doesn’t help,” he said.

He however was keen to express gratitude to his teammates who helped him raise the funds he needed for the surgery, about Sh. 500,000.

“I’ll be forever grateful to them. When I will be back to play, I will kick the ball with personal pride for them. They helped me when I was so low, and my career hanging by a thread,” thanked Otieno, also noting an incredible support from his family members.

His contract with Gor was almost coming to and end when he was injured, but he extended it to play for the record KPL champions for a year more.

With Gor already declared champions for the 2019/20 season that was ended prematurely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Otieno now has another chance to represent K’Ogalo in both local and continental competitions.

For Harambee Stars whose schedules could be tighter to recover lost time in the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) and World Cup qualifiers, head coach Francis Kimanzi has Otieno ready for the right back position that for a long time has not found competitive regular holders.

Important to note, Otieno was the first choice for the position for Stars in the 2019 AFCON qualifiers and and the tournament proper in Egypt under coach Sebastien Migne.

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Story By Jacob Icia
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