Ex Gor Mahia defender walking in Michael Olunga's footsteps with eventual key Djurgardens role

Ex Gor Mahia defender walking in Michael Olunga's footsteps with eventual key Djurgardens role

Mark Kinyanjui 11:00 - 21.05.2024

Odhiambo has joined Djurgarden FF from Gor Mahia in 2022 but has yet to make a single appearance for the club.

Former Gor Mahia defender Frank Odhiambo has had a tumultuous two seasons since controversially quitting the 21-time league champions for Swedish top flight side Djurgarden.

Normally, Kenyan footballers have made significant impacts in Swedish football, prompting clubs to scout promising talent from Nairobi.

Djurgarden holds a special place for Kenyan fans, being the club where national team captain Michael Olunga honed his skills. 

Olunga, who himself moved from Gor Mahia to Djurgarden in February 2016, has since built a stellar career, currently playing for Qatari giants Al Duhail. His success serves as a source of inspiration for many young players.

Victor Wanyama, former Kenyan national team captain and the only Kenyan to have played in the English Premier League, also began his professional career in Sweden.

 Other notable Kenyan players who excelled in the Swedish top tier include Erick Ouma and Joseph Okumu, who now plays for French side Reims.

While the likes of Olunga eventually hit the grounds running despite slow starts, where he ended up piping a future Newcastle United star named Alexander Isak in the race for the golden boot back in 2016, Odhiambo’s pathway to the first team has not been as streamlined.

He has so far been loaned out to Vasalund IF, Haninge IF, and currently AFC Eskilstuna. He still awaits his league debut for the side.

However, his dream to represent Djurgaden still lives on, having drawn inspiration from Timothy Ouma and Collins Shichenje, two fellow Kenyan footballers who have now been first tracked into the first team at Elsfborg and AIK respectively. 

"I am working extremely hard to be fully ready for league matches with Djurgarden next season,” Odhiambo told Sportsboom.

“It is a shame that it has taken me long and I have had to be loaned out but I haven't given up. In fact, I am motivated to work harder and succeed just the way Olunga and the other Kenyans have in Sweden. I don't believe that I will be loaned out again,"

The former Kenyan U20 defender sees the loan moves as crucial for his development, helping him adapt to the Swedish football culture and style. Enrolling in Swedish classes has also aided his integration.

"I came to Sweden as a rookie who needed to adapt to various aspects and things so as to be ready to play at the top level.

“Djurgarden saw the potential in me and the loan deals have helped me improve a lot. The Swedish culture, style of football is no longer an issue for me at the moment. The focus is to give my best at Eskilstuna and return to Djurgarden ready for game time," he said.

Odhiambo is confident that his hard work will pay off and that he will soon secure a spot in the Djurgarden team, aiming to help the club win titles and leave a lasting legacy in Sweden.

"Nothing can halt my dream. With hard work, I believe I will achieve my ambition in Sweden and move to the next staircase of my career. I also yearn for a return to the Kenyan national team debut," he added.

Odhiambo, who scored his first goal for Eskilstuna in April against Assyriska, enjoys the company of fellow Kenyan Henry Meja at the club. Meja, the 2020-2021 Kenyan league's Young Player of the Season award winner, is on loan from top-tier club AIK.

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