Sofapaka FC head coach John Baraza has urged currently active players to look at Harambee Stars goalkeeper Samuel Odhiambo’s rise for inspiration in their careers, and as a great source of hope.
While most players give up the hope of ever turning out for their national team when they hit 30 years, Samuel Odhiambo, of Western Stima FC in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL), got his first ever national team call at 35.
Baraza acknowledges that Odhiambo has worked really hard over the years and his call up was well merited.
“It is great for him. I am very happy for him because here we have a player who has maintained good standards across many years, leading teams and guiding youngsters. He has mentored many and I want younger players to look at this as the motivation they need,” Baraza told Soka.
His call up came by after one keeper – Brian Bwire – pulled out of the team heading to the 2019 CECAFA Senior Challenge and as chance would have it, Timothy Odhiambo, favorite to start at the tournament, suffered a hamstring injury just ahead of the opening game.
Odhiambo was tasked with guarding the posts and he did it well. Three matches down, he has two clean sheets and Harambee Stars have a perfect run – three wins.
“God’s time is the best; that’s all I can tell our players. Who knew Abawa would be in the team at 35? It is never too late, and never lose hope. Stay disciplined and work hard always, you never know,” he added.
With the performances Odhaimbo has had at the national team, he may well have cemented a place ahead of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers coming in 2020 as well as the ongoing 2021 African Cup of Nations Qualifiers.