Olunga’s Qatar move and a transfer to Turkish ‘bottom’ club - Beaking Kenya News

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Saturday, 16 January 2021

Olunga’s Qatar move and a transfer to Turkish ‘bottom’ club


The biggest subject of debate among Kenyan sports lovers this week has been Michael Olunga’s unexpected move from his stomping ground in Japan to Qatar. 

Even after the on-form Harambee Stars striker sealed a top dollar deal and made his debut for his new club Qatari club, Al Duhail, opinion is still divided on whether or not Olunga made the right call.

While the move has guaranteed Olunga rich financial rewards for the duration of his contract with his new club, the counter argument has been that this is a step down for the striker who has been scoring goals for fun in Japan for the last two years. 

At the risk of being thrown out by the admin of a WhatsApp group that draws its membership from sports journalists in the country, I will leak details of the animated discussions Olunga’s move elicited among Kenyan journalists, some of whom have closely followed and covered the lanky striker’s career over the years.

I silently watched and listened with amusement as my highly opinionated colleagues tried to dissect this topic all week long without reaching a consensus. They just couldn’t agree on whether it’s a hit or a miss for Olunga.

For all the banter and memes that were traded, the one question that remained unanswered was whether Olunga took a wrong turn by heading to Qatar instead of trying to find his way back to Europe.

Tough call, but in my reckoning, there are no wrong or right answers to this question. While many are of the view that Qatar is a pensioner’s destination, on the flip side, the top European leagues are more accommodating to players who arrive there much younger than Olunga. 

And while there are no guarantees that Olunga would flourish in Europe as much as he has in Japan, he will almost definitely carry on with his exploits in Qatar.

I didn’t put across these views on the said WhatsApp group, partly because I’m extremely ambivalent to engagements on such platforms. So I chose to simply watch from a safe distance as the debate raged on until it finally petered out.

The change of topic only happened after Olunga’s team mate in Kenya’s national team, Johanna Omolo joined “Turkish bottom club Erzurumspor” on Wednesday. 

For the sake of clarity, let me state that these are not my words, I’m simply quoting the headline that an online platform of one mainstream media house chose for the story.

I must admit that prior to Omolo’s move I have never heard of this club with a tongue-twister of a name - the full name is Büyükşehir Belediye Erzurumspor.

Nothing wrong though about the story, save for the ‘offensive’ word bottom in the headline.  

The overriding view was that while Omolo’s new club may currently be languishing in the basement, the headline was in bad taste and misplaced in the headline.

The counter view was that had Omolo joined, say table-topping Beşiktaş or fellow Istanbul giants Fenerbahçe, a headline like “Johanna Omolo joins Turkish top club side Fenerbahçe” would have been perfect.

The story survived the storm, the headline didn’t. It has since been edited to “Harambee Stars midfielder Johanna Omolo joins Turkish top tier side Erzurumspor” much to the satisfaction of most group members. 

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