Former AFC Leopards ace Collins Sichenje recounts emotional Finnish league title miss with KuPS and reflects on his journey from Kenya to Europe.
Harambee Stars defender Collins Lusaka Sichenje has emotionally recounted the moment Kuopion Palloseura (KuPS), where he spent the just concluded season on loan, narrowly missed out on the Finnish league title.
In what would have been a glorious ending to a gripping season, the Kenyan defender cum midfielder was left devastated and in tears, as KuPS came within two goals of securing the top-flight league championship in Finland.
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On October 21, all eyes were on the tense face-off between KuPS and league leaders HJK Helsinki. The equation was clear: KuPS had to secure a 3-0 victory to clinch the title.
However, despite a commendable performance that saw them dominate the game, they fell short, winning 2-1, which meant that the championship eluded them due to goal difference.
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Reflecting on that fateful day, Sichenje shared his heart-wrenching feelings.
“It was dramatic; we needed three goals to win the league. Helsinki was under pressure, and we felt it too, as we had to win by three goals. We played exceptionally well, but unfortunately, we didn't score the three goals. It was heartbreaking," he said.
"I cried, feeling we were so close to winning the league and fulfilling our dream. Winning the league is an achievement to be appreciated. Everyone was disappointed and devastated."
For Sichenje, football has been an intrinsic part of his life since his early days as he kickstarted his journey in football at the Green Commandos, the nickname for Kenyan Secondary school giants Kakamega High School.
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His prowess on the field was undeniable, and soon, in 2019, AFC Leopards snapped him up. Though his time there was brief, his talent shone bright, leading to his first call-up to the national team in 2020.
His meteoric rise in the footballing world continued when he caught the attention of Greek side PAOK B.
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However, despite the initial enthusiasm, Sichenje found it challenging to establish himself in the Greek terrain and eventually returned to AFC Leopards.
But his return to Ingwe was short-lived, as Swedish side AIK recognized his potential and swiftly brought him aboard.