They dared dream, and when they woke up reality had struck as Saburtalo Tbilisi – home to Kenyan midfielder Alwyn Luheni Tera – clinched their first ever Georgian League title, the Erovnuli Liga, at the close of the 2018 season.
Even the firmest of pundits gave Saburtalo, a club founded in 1999, no chance to be anywhere near the toppers of the 10-team, 36-round Eastern European league.
Howbeit, the team largely made of bubbly youth, most in the bracket of ages 17 to 22 acquired from its academy, did the unthinkable in registering an unbeaten streak of 11 games towards the close of the league to lift the title with 79 points, ten clear of big boys and record 16-time champions Dinamo Tbilisi.
As it was, the team hit the famed Dinamo 2-1 in the 31st round to gain massive advantage that ultimately got them to the title after adding a record 19 points to their haul of 60 points in the 2017 season that saw them finish a respectable fourth.
Saburtalo became the fifth different team in the last four years to lift the title. The title win earned them the right to feature in the first qualifying round of the prestigious UEFA Champions League set for July, 2019.
At the close of the season, as captured by footballski.fr, Saburtalo provided six of the league’s best eleven players at the end of the season.
Further, three of its players were named to the bench of the team of the season one being Tera aka Chamla, a former Laiser Hill alumnus, who joined the club back in the 2015/16 season.
Speaking exclusively to Soka from Georgia, Chamla was enchanted with the development; “It’s really happy to have made to the bench in 2018 team of the year but I’m not comfortable with that so I have to show more. It will be amazing if I will be in starting eleven of the year,”
In being part of the team and winning their maiden title, the Kenya U23 national team player said;
“It’s a good feeling especially when it’s the first time for both club and as a player. It was a big moment for many of us.”
At the close of the Georgian season Chamla returned home and walked straight to the Kenya U23 squad that is shaping up for the Africa U23 Cup of Nations set for Egypt in October 2019. The teams’ bigger picture is to qualify for the 2020 Olympics to be held in Japan. He featured in first round games against Mauritius where Kenya picked an aggregate 8-1 win to book Sudan in the second round of games in March 2019.
A call up to the U23 team coached by Francis Kimanzi has the former Lille player all excited and he is now yearning for more.
“There’s no greater feeling than playing for my country. I am really proud of that and thanks to the national team coaching staff for making it happen. I hope I will make more appearances in the upcoming games.” he added
Chamla has since returned to his Eastern Europe club for early training ahead of the season that kicks off at the onset of March, 2019. Champions Saburtalo will kick off the season with a home game against Dinamo Batumi.