The void left by Dennis Oliech at Stars prompted many to believe that only a certain type of character would withstand the weight of expectation that the Number 9 role brings.
It’s a role that many kids want, but it has to find a player with particular characteristics, a phenomenon.
The Number 9 role is one that gets fans excited. Harambee Stars was looking for a player with character, individuality and star quality; a player with immense skill and self-belief.
The profile of the player in question had to be someone who was capable of inspiring those around him. In the end the solution was already found earlier than anticipated. Kenyans need to look no further: Michael Ogada Olunga.
Not only did Olunga want the number 9 role, he demanded it. In the absence of Oliech he recognised the need for him to step up the mark. The sufficient blend of talent, aura and intestinal fortitude all epitomise the young lad from Uyoma, Siaya county because it takes balls to demand such a responsibility at the age of 21 (now 23).
It is somehow ironic that Olunga’s very noticeable ebullience which has got him to this point is the very same attitude which drove him from Swedish side Djurgaden IF to Guizhou Zhicheng in the Chinese Super league, a move received with a lot of stinging criticism from the Kenyan public.
Olunga is quickly vindicating his move to China by scoring three goals for Harambee stars since his move at the beginning of the year. His first goal against Congo DR was sublime.
From creating a non-existent chance on the left side of the attack by cutting in through DR Congo’s defense and smash the ball onto the roof of the net with his weaker right foot, is the only perfect way he could celebrate his 23rd birthday.
In many ways Olunga is the 21st century prototype for a footballer. Most observers will mention the usual traits of strength, power and speed. But while Olunga has all of those in spades, he also has just about every other aspect needed to master elite level football.
Not only can he score goals from almost anywhere inside the opposition’s half, he is tough tackling, positional intelligent and an able ball carrier.
Olunga has the right mixture of coached technique and natural brilliance. He marries the values learned in the coaching system at Liberty academy with the improvisation only discovered in alien environments.
Aligned with the combination of talent, superior athleticism and skill is that tangible quality great players have-the ability to make the improbable look exceedingly easy. What the future holds for him is still to be decided.