Ten players who have defied age
Monday, August 17th, 2020
Football is admittedly Kenya’s most popular sport with careers of players being followed closely by the fans. The average retirement age of a Kenyan Premier League player is 30 -32 years and further action above that limit is considered a bonus of sorts. However, it is mind-boggling how some players, most of them journeymen, have exceeded the average career length and are still going strong, and just like fine wine getting better with age. CHARLES THUKU looks at some of the players who have flipped the script and are expected to continue playing for their clubs upon resumption of KPL after the Covid-19 pandemic eases, their advanced age notwithstanding.
Moses Odhiambo - Nairobi Stima (38 years)
Despite failure to catapult to the Kenyan Premier League from the National Super League (NSL) last season, Stima can take solace in the fact that they have an experienced striker in ‘Dube’.
He started his career at the defunct Utalii. Odhiambo has also previously played for Gor Mahia, Sofapaka, Tusker and Mount Kenya
Outside Kenyan borders, he has played for Tanzania’s Moro United, Simba, Yanga and APR of Rwanda.
Joseph Shikokoti - Nairobi Stima (35 years)
Shikokoti has previously played for AFC Leopards, Ushuru and Harambee Stars as a centre back and is noted for his height which makes him win aerial balls with relative ease.
At six-feet, seven inches tall, he is one of the tallest footballers around and these are some of the qualities a coach worth his salt prefers.
In January 2014, Shikokoti joined AFC Leopards for a record Sh700,000 and scored his first goal for Ingwe against Kakamega High School in a 6-0 victory. Nairobi Stima are no doubt elated by his presence as the team eyes big things in the second tier league.
Allan Wanga - Kakamega Homeboyz (34 years)
Considered one of the most fleet-footed players of the current generation, Wanga plays for Kakamega Homeboyz where he also serves as the sporting director.
Wanga has featured for several teams including Lolwe FC of Kisumu, Tusker, AFC Leopards and Azam of Tanzania, among others.
His dream of playing in the Uefa Europa League was not realised with Azerbaijan Premier League side FC Baku as he failed to obtain a work permit after working out two-year contract with the club which ended on December 31, 2009.
Jockins Atudo - Posta Rangers (34 years)
Before joining the Mailmen, Atudo tested waters at Tusker, Sony Sugar and Tanzanian moneybags Azam.
Atudo has appeared for Harambee Stars and was part of the squad that won the 2013 Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup where he played the full 90 minutes in the final against Sudan.
He was the joint top scorer of the tournament alongside Allan Wanga, having scored three goals from the penalty spot. His last appearance for Harambee Stars was in an invitational friendly in Mumbai, India, in June 2018.
Boniface Oluoch - Gor Mahia (34 years)
His confidence between the posts is among traits that have endeared him to all the clubs he has had an opportunity of playing for including Tusker, , KCB , APR and his current side Gor
He started as a midfielder in his formative years before falling in love with the gloves.
Oluoch is fond of dribbling the ball past an opponent despite being a goalkeeper and is envisaged to remain a safe pair of hands for K’ogalo as they seek an unprecedented 20th KPL gong.
Anthony ‘Muki’ Kimani -City Stars (28 years)
He is one of the best creative midfielders to have graced Kenya’s top tier league.
Voted as the best midfielder during the 2010 KPL Footballer of The Year Awards , he has been the key man in all the clubs he has featured for.
He joined the big time league at 17 years when he was lured by World Hope (Now City Stars) but only played for half a season before he was poached by Sofapaka in 2009.
He rejoined City Stars for the remainder of the 2019 season where he was assured of a regular start.
Peter Opiyo - Nairobi City Stars (28 yrs)
Primarily, Opiyo plays as a midfielder where he has a commanding role supplying balls to strikers
Although relatively among the youngest in the list, he has had several stints with various clubs including Tusker, Thika, United, AFC Leopards.
He has previously played for Indian side Viva Kerala and Finnish outfit IF Jaro and his vast experience will come in handy for City Stars in the upcoming season.
Noah Abich - City Stars (33 years)
The offensive midfielder is revered as a dead ball specialist.
He takes the crown for having played for the highest number of teams including Mathare United, Nzoia Sugar, Sony Sugar, Tusker, Sofapaka, Bandari, Mount Kenya United, Kakamega Homeboyz, Nakumatt.
Abich started his career at Sony Sugar in 2006 to revamp their backline and led them to a third place finish in 2007.
He was the top scorer for Mathare in 2015 with nine goals and is also credited with winning two titles with Tusker in 2011 and 2012.
Willis ‘Awilo’ Ouma - Sofapaka (34 years)
He has been a Sofapaka regular since joining the team from KPL side Chemelil Sugar.
After shaking off a nagging kne injury, he resumed football like a bolt from the blue and he is one of the defenders who strikers dread to opponents.
His never-say-die attitude is apparently the reason why Sofapaka is one of the teams that conceded the fewest goals in the 2019/2020 KPL season.
George Maelo - Sofapaka (34 years)
The former Red Berets FC defender is an apt example that age does not matter in the field of play.
He reckons that good relationships between players and coach John Baraza has worked magic for the team.
Despite working for the disciplined forces, Maelo remains an integral part of Batoto Ba Mungu where he is the captain.
‘’We are determined to wrestle the title as we have a great squad that can compete with any team in the KPL’,” said Maelo.