Why Benson Omala needs to think carefully before considering a move to North Africa

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FOOTBALL Why Benson Omala needs to think carefully before considering a move to North Africa

Joel Omotto 07:36 - 11.01.2024

Gor Mahia striker Benson Omala has been reported to be on the radar of Algerian club USM Alger but recent history suggests it may not be a good move.

Gor Mahia striker Benson Omala is reportedly the subject of interest from Algerian club USM Alger who are exploring the possibilities of signing him this month.

USM have been reported to be working on a mouth-watering package to entice Omala away from K’Ogalo in what would be a major coup.

However, the deal remains a rumour as Gor Mahia have insisted they have not received any bid or had contact with the Algerian club so far.

Be that as it may, Omala will have to think carefully before agreeing to a move to Algeria as recent history suggests North Africa has not been a good hunting ground for Kenyan players.

Apart from Masud Juma, who has spent four of the last five years in Libya, Algeria, and Morocco before moving to Saudi Arabia last year, other Kenyan players who made moves to Algeria or North Africa have found it tough and returned as soon as they left.

Edwin Lavatsa

Former Gor Mahia forward Edwin Lavatsa left K’Ogalo in January 2014 for Algerian side MC Alger.

He had spent three successful years at Gor Mahia where he won the Kenyan Premier League title in 2013 after which he attracted the interest of the Algerian club.

Lavatsa was handed a two-year contract but lasted just six months in Algeria. MC Alger discontinued his deal in May of that year, Lavatsa being among 14 players who were dropped by the Algerian club for ‘non-performance.’

He returned to Kenya and later played for Mathare United and Bandari FC.

Derrick Otanga

Before his second coming at KCB in August last year, Derrick Otanga had tried his luck in North Africa without success.

Otanga was the leading scorer in the 2021/22 FKF Premier League, where he scored 16 goals for KCB.

That impressive return attracted interest from Algerian clubs but it is Libya’s Alittihad Misurata SC who eventually signed him.

Otanga was handed a one-year deal, with an option for a further year, by the Libyan club but he was back home four months later.

After starting well, he was frozen out of the squad when former AFC Leopards coach Luc Eymael left Alittihad Misurata in December 2022 and returned home in February 2023 after which he joined Kenya Police.

Humphrey Mieno

Sofapaka midfielder Humphrey Mieno left Batoto ba Mungu for Tunisian side Club Africain in July 2011 in a deal that was reported to be worth Ksh9.6 million at the time.

Mieno was said to have signed a three-year deal but left in December that year and returned to Sofapaka.

The lanky midfielder did not enjoy regular playing time in Tunisia and opted to return home. He would go on to enjoy successful stints at Azam FC, AFC Leopards, Gor Mahia, and Tusker in between a spell with Omani second-tier side Al-Itihad.

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