Michael Olunga’s hat trick on Saturday for Kashiwa Reysol in the Japanese second tier makes 2019, the striker’s best ever return in front of goal since leaving the local scene three years ago.
The Harambee Stars forward went home with the match ball after helping his side maintain their hold on top spot in the J2 league with a dominant 4-1 win over Renofa Yamaguchi, with his treble lifting his tally for the season to 13 goals across all competitions.
Eleven of those goals have come in the league where he now lies joint 8th in the top scorers charts, five goals behind leading scorer Yong-Jae-Lee of Fagiano Okayama.
Olunga exploded onto the scene in 2015 where, on loan to Gor Mahia from Liberty Sports Academy, he netted 19 times in the league as Frank Nuttall’s men, clinched the KPL crown unbeaten.
That return is his best ever and one that looks like being equaled or broken by the time this season comes to an end. Fifteen more rounds of play remain before the 2019 J2 season concludes.
Since leaving Kenya, Olunga has played in the top leagues in Sweden, China, Spain and Japan. Scoring a total of 20 goals with the bulk of them (12) coming for FC Djugardens in the Swedish topflight.
Saturday’s hatrick is his second since joining the pro-ranks with the first coming for Girona FC against Las Palmas back in 2018 in Spain’s La Liga.
The calendar year has also seen the former Tusker, Thika United man become Kenya’s top scorer at an AFCON finals with his two goals against Tanzania at this year’s tourney in Egypt, seeing him tie the legendary Jonathan Niva who also scored twice in Kenya’s continental debut in 1972.