Kenya: Timbe Reveals Olunga's Hand in Japan Move

Kenyan international Ayub Timbe Masika has revealed how compatriot Michael "Engineer" Olunga influenced his decision to join Japan top-tier side Vissel Kobe.

In an interview with his new employers who asked fans to forward questions they would like to pose to the 28-year-old winger, Timbe said he consulted Olunga who left Kashiwa Reysol for Qatari side Al Duhail in January after emerging the 2020 J1 League top scorer and player of the year.

"I felt it (Vissel Kobe) is a really good team. I talked to Michael Olunga who told me Vissel Kobe is one of the best teams in Japan. It has good players, facilities... just everything," said Timbe adding that Vissel Kobe's popularity was also a factor.

Terrific speed

On his personal targets this season, Timbe said:

"My personal goal in 2021 is first to bring the team to a better position. I will try to get eight to 10 goals this season."

He pointed out his speed will be big boost to Kobe's attack.

"I'm pretty fast. I don't know how fast I am, but I know I'm fast. In a fraction of a second I can change the game with my pace, which is my power," he offered.

On whether he has pre-match routines, Timbe said he wakes up at 5.30am. "I pray, stretch, listen to music, take an energy drink. Music is a key thing for me until I leave the changing room. While in the changing room, I take a football and juggle. Before I enter the pitch, I take a three quick jump with my right foot."

Timbe, who prefers being called Mas because most people mispronounce his family name Masika, says he also watches a lot of highlights of the J1 League to keep abreast with action since he hasn't turned out for Vissel Kobe yet.

Love for fashion

He holds J1 League with high esteem. "J1 League is good league with very quality players, pitches...It's a very good league."

Asked about his hobbies, Timbe said he loves music - with his favourite musician being Drake - ,travelling and fashion. "I love fashion. If I wasn't a footballer, then I would be in fashion. It's something I want to do when I retire," he noted.

Timbe - who speaks Swahili, English and Flemish - is currently on 14-day quarantine after entering Japan recently. He joined Vissel Kobe last month as a free agent after his contract with Beijing Renhe expired on July 31, 2020.

He wasn't able to link up with his new side due to strict coronavirus restrictions which barred foreigners from entering Japan.

The restrictions were lifted on March 21 enabling Timbe and compatriot Ismail Dunga to finally travel to Japan.

Timbe was in the last half of last season playing for English Championship outfit Reading on loan from Beijing Renhe.

Vissel Kobe, who have former Barcelona stars Andres Iniesta and Thomas Vermaelen in their ranks, currently occupy position five in the expanded 20-team league.

Dunga's Sagan Tosu are placed fourth. These two sides are level on 14 points from seven matches, while defending champions Kawasaki Frontale are top with 22 points from eight matches.

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