5 Kenya’s foreign-based players who need to find new clubs

5 Kenya’s foreign-based players who need to find new clubs

Joel Omotto 08:00 - 21.05.2024

As the season conclude and focus turns to the transfer window, Pulse Sports highlights five Kenyan players based abroad that should be looking for new clubs.

The European football season has just come to an end and so are others in Africa and Asia with focus now set to shift to the transfer window.

While the Major League Soccer (MLS) is among those still ongoing, it will also take a break in under two months which will give way to the midseason transfer between July 18 and August 14.

It is therefore an opportunity for a number of players to decide their futures with many looking to move to new clubs to either further their careers or in search of playing time.

Among those looking for new clubs will be a number of Kenyan players based abroad who have become peripheral figures at their current sides.

Victor Wanyama

CF Montreal midfielder Victor Wanyama (2) controls the ball during the MLS, Fussball Herren, USA match between Charlotte FC and CF Montreal held at Saputo Stadium in Montreal on June 25, 2022.

Former Harambee Stars captain Victor Wanyama is among Kenya’s foreign-based players that should be looking to move on after four years at MLS side CF Montreal.

Wanyama was a key figure for Montreal for over three years but events of the last one year suggest he is no longer important at the club.

Since the second half of last season, the midfielder has rarely played, managing a few substitute appearances under former coach Hernan Losada, and it has not changed under new man Laurent Courtois despite assurances of a change in fortunes early in the season.

Like Losada, Courtois has also made Wanyama a peripheral figure who has managed seven appearances in 16 games. Of the 16, only two have been starts, one in a cup game and another in the league, with the rest being late substitute appearances.

He has fallen down the pecking order with midfielders Samuel Piette, Mathieu Choiniere (24), Bryce Duke (22) and Nathan Saliba (19) all ahead of him.

The 32-year-old is in in the final year of his contract and should consider opportunities elsewhere either in the midseason transfer window or at the end of the campaign in October.

Even though Choiniere is set to leave the club, which could open an opportunity in midfield, there are no guarantees that Wanyama will be the beneficiary with Courtois hired for his development of young talents.

As Montreal’s designated player [player whose salary exceeds the maximum cap], it could also be an opportunity for the club to get their top earner off the books.

Nabi Kibunguchy

© Orlando City B (Twitter)

Another US-based Kenyan player who needs to consider his future is defender Nabi Kibunguchy who players for Orlando City FC.

The US-born defender has struggled to break into the senior team at the Florida-based club, making do with spells on the bench while mostly turning out for the second string side Orlando City B in the US League One.

At 26, Kibunguchy is in the prime years of his career and should be playing top flight football but it seems his club does not think he meets the grade yet.

A move elsewhere where he will be guaranteed regular playing time will be beneficial to him and also boost his chances of selection into the national team Harambee Stars.

Kibunguchy made his Harambee Stars debut when he came on as a late substitute for Johnstone Omurwa during Kenya’s 5-0 thrashing of Seychelles in November but has been dropped for the upcoming matches against Burundi and Ivory Coast. To regain his spot, he has to play regularly at the top level.

He can borrow a leaf from Richard Odada, who faced similar issues at Philadelphia Union, before switching to Aalborg in Denmark where he had a rebirth.

Anthony Akumu

Anthony Akumu playing for Sogan Tosu.
©Anthony Akumu Twitter.

Anthony Akumu has had a nightmare one-and-a-half years since deciding to move to Japanese Sagan Tosu in December 2022.

Akumu joined Sagan Tosu after staying without a club for six months following his release by South African giants Kaizer Chief and hopes of turning a new page quickly evaporated when he was turned into a bench warmer.

Things turned from bad to worse as the midfielder was consistently left out of the Sagan Tosu squad and he only featured for the team five times, all in cup games.

Harambee Stars coach Engin Firat said in March that the player had secured a new club which he was close to joining but it has not materialised yet.

Despite calls to drop him over his lack of minutes at club level, Firat has kept faith in Akumu, who is one of his three trusted midfielders alongside Kenneth Muguna and Odada, but the coach will have a hard time defending the player if he does not secure regular playing time soon.

Brian Mandela

Brian Mandela missed a crucial penalty that knocked Sundowns out of the League Cup

Another season has ended with defender Brian Mandela picking up another PSL title.

The 2023-24 campaign has seen his claim his third straight South African top flight title with Mamelodi Sundowns but it is another season when he has played a peripheral role.

Just like the 2021-22 and 2022-23 campaigns, Mandela has been blighted by injuries and poor form that has seen him given few minutes by coach Rulani Mokwena.

The defender, who joined Sundowns in 2020 from Maritzburg United, was close to leaving at the end of last season but was given a stay of execution to act as cover for injuries and suspensions but his situation has not changed.

It seems even Sundowns fans have had enough as he was booed during the club’s match against Sekhukhune United last month, his first appearance for Masandawana in 20 matches.

While his coach sees him as a useful squad player, the 29-year-old cannot continue wasting his prime years on the Sundowns bench, even if it guarantees him trophies, and he would rather look for opportunities elsewhere in South Africa or on the continent where he will play regularly.

Tobias Otieno

Kenyan midfielder Tobias Otieno.
© Tobias Otieno X.

Former Gor Mahia midfielder Tobias Otieno has been without a club since he bid farewell to US League One side South Georgia Tormenta FC following the end of his two-year contract last December.

Otieno was among 11 out of contract players that the club opted against including in their 2024 roster and departed despite a stellar campaign for Tormenta FC.

The former Sony Sugar midfielder was voted the club’s Player of the Month for October, having been in contention for the May and June gongs but that was not enough to convince the Georgia-based side to extend his stay.

Prior to joining Tormenta FC, Otieno helped Union Omaha win its first USL League One title in the club history but despite his success, he is still club-less, a situation that has to change soon.

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