Kenya: Bobby Williamson - Why Olunga Should Move to Qatar

7 January 2021

Michael Olunga has what it takes to play in the English Premier League, but a move to Qatar will benefit him financially, says former Harambee Stars coach Bobby Williamson.

Olunga has starred in the Japanese J-League, at top-flight club Kashiwa Reysol, for whom he's scored 55 times in the league over the past two seasons.

The Japan Times recently reported top Qatari side Al Duhail SC has bid Sh1 billion in exchange for the former Gor Mahia and Tusker FC's services, leading Kenyans to suggest they would prefer the player moved to England instead.

To this, Williamson, who played and coached in England at West Brom and Chester City respectively, and also handed Olunga his first call-up to the Kenya Under-23 national team, suggests either move will benefit the centre-forward just fine.

"I've got every confidence he would be successful in England if he goes to the right team. Michael is a top intelligent lad and I am not surprised he is doing too well. I just happened to be the coach when he made his national team debut but any coach would have called him up because of his talent," explained Williamson.

"I would understand if he ends up in Qatar, the money he earns there will set him and his family up for life. He won't even need to be an engineer when he finishes playing football which is a short career."

English teams prefer working with young footballers from Africa so at 26, a move to Qatar on a long-term contract will almost certainly end any hopes of Olunga moving to England later.

The lanky forward has been the brightest spot of what was a year to forget on the Kenyan football scene, marred by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and squabbling between the administrators.

He won both the top scorer and most valuable player in Japan and was also named among the best "little known" strikers in the world by Fifa.

With the experience of playing in Sweden, China and Spain's top-flight leagues in the past six years, Duhail SC reportedly fancy Olunga as an upgrade to former Bayern Munich striker Mario Mandzukic, who has failed to find the goals.

Currently ranked third in Qatar's 12-team top flight, Duhail owner Abdullah bin Nasser bin Al Ahmed Al Thani has promised Olunga a 100 percent increase to his current Sh8 million monthly pay.

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