Harambee Stars hat-trick drought: Former Kenyan strikers explain why it took 26 years

FOOTBALL Harambee Stars hat-trick drought: Former Kenyan strikers explain why it took 26 years

Joel Omotto 06:33 - 29.03.2024

Following Michael Olunga’s treble against Zimbabwe on Tuesday, former Harambee Stars strikers have detailed why it has taken over two decades to witness it.

Michael Olunga scored a hat-trick for Harambee Stars for the first time in 26 years when he led Kenya to their 3-1 victory against Zimbabwe in the Four Nations Tournament on Tuesday.

Olunga became just the fourth Harambee Stars player to achieve the feat, after Abdul Baraza against Sudan in December 1966, Mike Okoth past Burkina Faso in April 1997 and Sammy Okoth against Djibouti in August 1998.

Since then, no Kenyan player has managed a treble in a match until Olunga’s heroics in Malawi but former strikers Okoth and Boniface Ambani believe it is something that could have been achieved more regularly were it not for a number of hindrances.

“We have not had a consistent national team for a long time due to a number of issues. We have been chopping and changing a lot of players and coaches. Also, things like FIFA bans have affected us,” said Okoth, who scored three as Kenya beat Djibouti 9-1 in 1998.

Okoth, now the Migori Youth coach, feels Engin Firat needs to avoid tinkering with the squad if Kenya is to keep getting consistent results and also help Olunga score more regularly.

“Now, there are some signs showing where we have a consistent team being called up. We have Olunga playing regularly for his club and consistently in the national team. Then he knows what he wants and that is helping him,” he added.

“Then you need to be tuned on throughout as a striker. Even Olunga, people were questioning why he was scoring in the league and not in the national team but they are different things so when you are on form and have that touch it also helps.”

However, Ambani is of the view that Kenya is not scoring enough goals due to the tact that strikers do not get enough training.

“A striker is a striker let's play them like that not train them as midfielders,” said Ambani. “We are forcing them to play as midfielders which is stifling them. We have so many talented strikers but we are not training them right. Kenya is obsessed with midfielders.”

“We need to push them and play to their strength. If the striker gets service, he will always score goals,” added Ambani.

Okoth also feels having strikers on top form from the league will increase competition in the national team which will lead to more goals and hat-tricks for Harambee Stars.

“Before I scored the hat-trick, you needed to be among the top scorers in the league and the competition was very high. So, the guys you were competing with in the league were the same rivals in the national team,” said the former Transcom and Shabana striker.

“There was also prizes for top scorers in the league which motivated the players.”

With Olunga setting the standards, Kenyans will be hoping that it will not be another long wait before the next hat-trick arrives.

Follow Pulse Sports WhatsApp channel for more news.