Player of the Month Otieno waiting on Okumbi’s call
Nzoia Sugar defender Brian Otieno revealed he bears ambitions of playing for the national team Harambee Stars as he received the Sports Journalist Association of Kenya (SJAK) Player of the Month award for March at the Sudi Stadium.
Otieno won the monthly accolade ahead of Gor Mahia duo of Godfrey Walusimbi and Kenneth Muguna who was last year’s Kenyan Premier League (KPL) Player of the Year.
The center half netted twice for newcomers Nzoia in their shock 5-2 win over champions Tusker in the opening round of KPL and helped his team secure a clean sheet when they played Mathare United in the second fixture of March.
He was flawless during Nzoia’s second encounter in March as they held Mathare to a goalless draw. The sturdy defender garnered 17 votes from SJAK’s panel beating Walusimbi to second position while Muguna came third with 14,11 votes respectively.
Otieno told Citizen Digital he hopes performances at club level will attract the attention of Harambee Stars First Coach Stanley Okumbi.
“I have always worked very hard. The national team is the highest level one can play and to tell you the truth I’m still waiting to play there. Hopefully, this will help me fulfill that desire,” he said.
He dedicated the award to his teammates as well as the coaching staff and termed it as a morale booster.
“Of course am happy but my fellow players are to thank for this. They’ve supported me all through. If we continue with the same spirit I may even bag this award more times,” Otieno underscored.
The Sugar Millers have obtained mixed results in their debut season at the top tier winning, drawing and losing twice in all six matches they have played so far and are eighth in the league standings on eight points.
He vowed to help his side find consistency to ensure they achieve the target they have set of finishing in the top eight.
“We have many goals .It’s tough playing in the premier league but the key thing is that we keep on pushing on. My priority is to inspire the team so that we can continue playing at the same level come next year. The good thing is that the players are working hard in training and giving the coach the support he needs,” he underscored.
Otieno will miss Nzoia’s upcoming away league match against Western Stima due to injury.
“Unfortunately I’ll not travel to Kisumu because I my ankle got bruised last weekend. I hope I can come back strongly when we play Sony Sugar in our next game,” he added.
He was awarded Ksh100,000, a trophy that has his name engraved on it and will take home a 49-inch LG TV while his team is expected to receive Ksh50,000.
“I felt so good to score against Tusker and I don’t think I’ll be forgetting it soon. You see when I scored, that was very overwhelming. I don’t know whether I’ll ever be that happy again,” he said.
His fine form saw him feature in all but one of Nzoia’s 38 matches in the National Super League (NSL) last year when they rose to the top flight in emphatic fashion, losing only one match.
Tusker’s Shafik Batambuze was the last recipient of the monthly accolade after he helped reigning league champions Tusker claims the 2016 title.
The player of the month is an initiative compelled by the Sports Journalist Association in collaboration with South Korean manufacturers LG Electronics who are the sponsors.
-Report by Mwangi Githinji.
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