Kenya: How Much Will Olunga Earn If He Emerges Japan League Top Scorer?

1 December 2020
analysis

Kashiwa Reysol star forward Michael Olunga is set to pocket Sh529,000 if he clinches the 2020 Japanese League top scorer's accolade.

Japan Professional Football League disclosed recently that the J1 League top scorer will be rewarded with Sh529,000 (500,000 yen). Best player will take home Sh1 million and will be drawn from the finest 11 players as voted by the selection committee.

Eight players in the Best 11 list will be chosen by the J1 League's 18 club managers and players, while the remaining three by the selection committee.

The 26-year-old Kenyan international leads the race for the Golden Boot after netting 25 goals for Kashiwa with six matches still to play in the 18-team league.

Engineer, as Olunga is popularly known to Kenyan fans, has a chance to close in on the money and widen the eight-goal gap between him and closest rival Brazilian Everaldo, when 10th-placed Kashiwa visits bottom-ranked Vegalta Sendai in a rearranged fixture Tuesday.

This match was originally scheduled for November 3, but postponed after Kashiwa recorded 16 cases of coronavirus infections in its camp.

Kashiwa goes to Sendai fully aware it has been a tough hunting ground for points since 2016. Coach Nelson Baptista's men have not defeated Vegalta in their last five visits there. They have lost three times, including the last two matches and drawn twice in Sendai.

The last time Kashiwa won in Sendai was in 2015 when they blanked Vegalta 1-0 in the league and 4-3 in Emperor's Cup.

Inspired by Olunga, Kashiwa will be keen to end that awful record. Olunga knows this fixture too well. He bagged a hat-trick when these two sides met in the first leg at Kashiwa's backyard on July 26. On that day, Kashiwa hammered Vegalta 5-1. Hayato Nakama and Yusuke Segawa grabbed a goal each.

Olunga also missed a penalty.

Kashiwa heads into Tuesday's fixture boasting of an unbeaten record of two matches against Vegalta after also being held at home 1-1 in the Levain Cup in May 2019. Both sides warmed up for this encounter with victories. Kashiwa outwitted Kashima Antlers 4-1, while Vegalta saw off Sagan Tosu 1-0 on November 25.

Nelsinho's men will climb to eighth if they return to Kashiwa with three points. At the moment, Kashiwa is on 44 points from 28 matches. A win will see them overtake ninth-placed Urawa Red Diamonds, who are on 45 points from 31 matches and Yokohama F. Marinos, who are in eighth spot with 47 points from 33 matches.

After Vegalta, Kashiwa will have five tough matches against third-ranked Nagoya Grampus (December 5), 11th-placed Oita Trinita (December 9), fifth-ranked Cerezo Osaka (December 12), seventh-on-the-table Sanfrecce Hiroshima (December 16) and new champions Kawasaki Frontale (December 19).

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