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Fifa lauds Olunga

Fifa has named Michael Olunga among five ‘little-known’ strikers who impressed in front of goal in 2020.

In a detailed report via its website, the world governing body’s media team also tipped the Harambee Stars forward to impress at the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers which commence in 2021.

“Michael Olunga who began his career with Liberty Sports Academy in his native Kenya, has, at 26, already had his passport stamped a number of times and managed to find the net in several different countries, including Sweden, Spain, China, and his current adopted home, Japan,” the report states.

And it was after arriving in the Land of the Rising Sun in 2018 that he began to score more regularly and in a more clinical fashion. “I attribute the success to hard work and staying focussed even when you think everything is lost,” he told Fifa.com in April.”It’s about believing you are capable of achieving great things and doing wonders on the pitch.”

Olunga scored 28 league goals in 32 matches, leading promoted Kashiwa Reysol to seventh place at the conclusion of the Japan top-flight league season. He was the competition’s top-scorer and also voted the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the league. His other records include becoming the first-ever player to score three goals for Girona in the Spanish top-flight. He also scored eight times in one match as Kashiwa beat Kyoto Sanga 13-1 in Japan’s second division in 2019. Olunga has also been the mainstay for Kenya’s national team, scoring against Ghana and Ethiopia during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in Nairobi to help Harambee Stars qualify for the continental showpiece. He also scored two of Kenya’s three goals at the tournament in Egypt.

Costa Rican Marcel Hernandez, Danish Kasper Junker, Argentian Ramiro Rocca, and Estonian Rauno Sappinen were also recognized alongside Olunga on the platform.