Ex-Brighton striker aims to make Kenyan dad proud with maiden Harambee Stars cap

FOOTBALL Ex-Brighton striker aims to make Kenyan dad proud with maiden Harambee Stars cap

Mark Kinyanjui 06:00 - 20.03.2024

Ayunga aims to dedicate his maiden Harambee Stars cap at the upcoming Malawi Four Nations tournament to his Kenyan father, who left to settle in England while the striker was still an infant.

Harambee Stars striker Jonah Ayunga has revealed what debuting for the side would mean for his family, particularly his dad.

The Brighton & Hove Albion academy product, who now plays for St. Mirren, in the Scottish Premier League, has revealed how his father moved to England while very young to try and build a positive future for his family.

Ayunga has been born and raised in England, and has journeyed in the lower divisions since his release from Brighton and now plays in the Scottish top flight, where he has scored two goals for the team this season since returning from a lengthy ACL injury last December.

Now, he has revealed why playing for Kenya will be important to him.

“It will be amazing. My dad came to England when he was quite young, when I was just born and he sacrificed a lot. He misses his family here and living here, so if I can do that for him, it will be amazing,” Ayunga said.

A fast and pacey center forward head coach Engin Firat has described as “physically very strong” and “fitting character”, Ayunga is relishing the chance to give Michael Olunga a run for his money in the striking department, with Benson Omala and John Avire also in the mix.

“There is alot of competition in each position, which is good because it makes everyone’s levels go up when you know you are not safe in the team.

“I just gotta think about myself and try and impress the coach every time I get the chance.”

Ayunga is banking on his performances in Malawi to permanently earn Firat’s trust and earn more call ups in the future.

“If I focus on the tournament, earn my best at the tournament and earn myself the right (to earn future caps).”

The lanky forward received his first call-up to the Harambee Stars setup in August 2018 but never featured for the side. He has, however, openly stated before would wish to represent the country at the forthcoming 2026 FIFA World Cup.

“For every player, the World Cup is seen as the best place you can ever get to in terms of football,” Ayunga told the Daily Record in December 2022.

“You never know. You have to dream big. Hopefully we can get there too one day.

“I’m hoping to get back involved with Kenya. I’m still just waiting to hear from them. Whenever they give me the call I’ll be ready to go.”