Michael Olunga shuts his critics as he inspires Harambee Stars to five-goal rout of Seychelles

FOOTBALL Michael Olunga shuts his critics as he inspires Harambee Stars to five-goal rout of Seychelles

Joel Omotto 00:00 - 21.11.2023

Harambee Stars captain Michael Olunga scored a quick-fire brace as Kenya recorded their first win in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers following a 5-0 thrashing of Seychelles.

Michael Olunga ended his six-game Harambee Stars goal drought when he scored twice as Kenya thrashed Seychelles 5-0 in their second 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier at the Stade Félix Houphouët-Boigny in Abidjan on Monday.

Olunga took little time to make his presence felt when he latched onto a poor pass from the Seychelles defence to fire home in the third minute and he was celebrating a second just two minutes later.

A good ball lofted in from Kenya’s defence was not dealt with well by the Seychelles backline with the second ball falling to Olunga who fired a shot directly at goalkeeper Carlos Simeon. The custodian parried the ball into the striker’s path and he responded by slotting in the rebound for Kenya’s second.

It was a good response to Olunga’s doubters somewhat after he had come under heavy criticism over his profligacy in front of goal in recent matches.

Olunga had not scored since March when Kenya lost 2-1 to Iran but coach Engin Firat has kept faith in him despite calls from a section of fans for him to be dropped.

Shortly after, there was a scare for Kenya when Eric ‘Marcelo’ Ouma, returning from injury, went down following a nasty challenge from Helton Monay, and although he continued, he was replaced at halftime by Aboud Omar.

Olunga also went down in the 24th minute after coming together with goalkeeper Simeon but he was soon back on his feet.

The Harambee Stars skipper then had a chance to complete his hat-trick but wasted the opportunity and then missed another one shortly after when a pass to Masud Juma would have sufficed.

Monay then received a yellow card for what appeared to be a deliberate stamp on Richard Odada that left the midfielder in great pain, leading to a scuffle between the two players.

That did not stop the scoring spree for Kenya as Masud Juma would soon score the third and his second in the qualifiers.

A quickly taken throw-in from Eric Johanna found Juma on his bike and the forward smashed home a low shot past the hapless Simeon.

Returning Eric Johanna then wasted a glorious opportunity to make it 4-0 after the break, hitting the post from close range after connecting well with Olunga’s cross.

However, the impressive Rooney Onyango made it 4-0 in the 62nd minute when he made a good run in the box to smash in a loose ball before teed up Gor Mahia team-mate Benson Omala for the fifth.

Omala had just been introduced with less then 20 minutes to go and he was soon celebrating his first goal in what was his second cap as he slotted in from close range after Onyango squared a delicious pass to him.

Omala then thought he had made it 6-0 shortly after, getting on the end of Juma’s pass but he was flagged offside.

With the game done, Firat handed Nabi Kibunguchy his maiden cap as the US-born defender came on as a late substitute for Onyango.

Victory will take some pressure off Firat as his side now have three points from Group F after two games, same as Burundi, with Ivory Coast and Gabon on six apiece.