Stars Abroad: Olunga nets in Japan as Timbe makes Reading debut

The past weekend of 15/16 February was a positive one for Kenyan players playing abroad with two getting on the scoresheet and one earning a debut.

Michael Olunga and John Makwatta were both on the scoresheets for their respective clubs in Japan and Zambia while Ayub Timbe made his long awaited debut for English Championship side Reading FC.

The 2020 Japanese football season kicked off over the weekend with the J. League Cup where Kashiwa Reysol claimed a 1-0 win over fellow top tier side Gamba Osaka on Sunday at Osaka’s Suita Stadium.

Olunga netted the game’s only goal in the 24th minute with a close range finish. The win has Kashiwa top Group D and sees Olunga pick-up from where he left off last season as his 27 goals propelled Reysol back to the top tier. He now has 33 goals in 44 games across all competitions for Reysol.

Makwatta goal

From Asia to Africa and specifically to Zambia where another Kenyan forward, John Makwatta netted his second goal in as many matches for new club Zesco United as they drew 2-2 with Power Dynamos on Sunday.

Makwatta joined the defending Zambian champions during the 2019/20 midseason from AFC Leopards and has played two matches netting his first goal against Mufulira Wanderers on his debut.

The draw has Zesco, who have two games in hand, trailing leaders Forest Rangers by three points as they lie in 3rd place with 39 points. Striker Jesse Were and custodian Ian Otieno also featured in the game for Zesco.

Still in Zambia and it was an unfortunate outing for Kenyan trio of Duke Abuya, Musa Mohammed and Duncan Otieno who were unable to prevent their club Nkana FC from falling 1-0 to Forest Rangers on Saturday. The loss leaves Nkana in 4th place, tied on 39 points with Zesco but having played two games more.

To Europe and to the English second tier where Ayub Timbe made his debut for Reading FC in a 3-0 English Football League (EFL) win away to Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday. Timbe, who is on-loan at the club from China’s Beijing Renhe, came on as a substitute for the final three minutes of the match at Hillsborough replacing Dominic Ejaria, another player on-loan at the club from Liverpool FC.

The big win has Reading sitting in 15th place in the 24 team log with 42 points, 11 points off the playoff places for qualification to the Premier League.

Omollo

Still in Europe and to the Belgian top tier where Johanna Omollo helped his club Cercle Brugge seal a pivotal win in their efforts to avoid relegation. Omollo was introduced as a substitute for the final eight minutes of Brugge’s 1-0 away win to Sint Truiden on Saturday.

The game was only the ninth appearance of the season for Omollo who has seen his playing minutes reduced as a result of injuries.

Brugge are on the brink of going down as they lie bottom with 17 points, three points adrift of safety and will need to not drop points in their final four matches of the season and hope the teams above them do if they are to extend their stay in the top tier for a third successive season.