Steeple king Kemboi backs Stars, Olunga out to sparkle

Steeplechase legend Ezekiel Kemboi (left) receives a Tottenham Hotspur jersey of Victor Wanyama (right) when ...
Steeplechase legend Ezekiel Kemboi (left) receives a Tottenham Hotspur jersey of Victor Wanyama (right) when he visited Harambee Stars camp on Friday, November 11, 2016. PHOTO/Michelle Katami/Courtesy

Two-time Olympics and four-time men 3000m steeplechase champion, Ezekiel Kemboi will be among the fans when Harambee Stars take on Mozambique tomorrow at Safaricom Stadium, Kasarani.

Kemboi paid the team a visit today at their camp where the English Premier League Chelsea FC fan was presented with a jersey of their North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur by Stars captain Victor Wanyama.

Kemboi who lost his Olympics title in Rio to his heir-apparent Conseslus Kipruto before being disqualified has in past sought to rally the national football team to aim for the kind of glory he has brought his nation.

On Thursday, the veteran athlete also known as ‘Baba Yao’ (their father) underlined his mission to defend the title at the IAAF World Championships in London in a bid to win an unprecedented record fifth crown to atone for the ignominy in Brazil where he was stripped of his bronze medal.

At the same time, Djurgardens IF striker Michael Olunga is tipping his side to overcome the Mambas after scoring the winner when Stars sensationally defeated Democratic Republic of Congo 1-0 in their last outing.

“My job a striker is to score goals. If given a chance to represent my country tomorrow (Saturday), I’m yearning to score more goals. I’m proud of my country and I want to do everything to move Kenyan football to the next level so that we cannot be overlooked in Europe. Charity begins at home.

Olunga also revisited about his first season in the Swedish top flight where he exploded to form in the second half of the campaign after an indifferent start following his switch from Kenyan Premier League giants, Gor Mahia.

“I can summarise the season as a balanced campaign. In the first leg I did not play much so much under our first coach. In the second half, we had a new coach who believed in me and I had to repay his faith.

“It was just a matter of time and you know when you come from Africa to European Leagues is quite different, the tempo of the game, the physicality of the game and you are playing with top level players and to level opposition so you have to adjust to the way they are playing.

“It took me time but I thank God that I found my footing and then finally started scoring the goals and it gives me confidence when coming to the national team and I hope I can replicate the same,” Olunga who top scored for Djurgadens with 12 in 27 games explained to journalists in Stars open day.

Olunga promised the team that is on a five-match unbeaten run will give a good account against Mozambique on Saturday before taking on Liberia on Tuesday.

“Personally I don’t know much about Mozambique and Liberia. We are more focused on ourselves and we will give them a good match. The last time we played here we won 2-1 so it gives us morale and confidence,” the forward who was included in the Team of the Season in the just concluded Swedish top flight emphasised.

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Story By Mutwiri Mutuota
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