Late bloomer or timely addition: Does Bruce Kamau merit a spot in Harambee Stars?

Late bloomer or timely addition: Does Bruce Kamau merit a spot in Harambee Stars?

Festus Chuma 07:00 - 21.05.2024

After eight years, Bruce Kamau rejoins Harambee Stars despite poor form, stirring debate on his merits and selection criteria

Eight years ago, on May 16, 2016, Bruce Kamau faced a pivotal decision in his football career. 

Then Harambee Stars head coach Stanley Okumbi extended an invitation to the Australia-based midfielder to join the Emerging Stars for friendlies against Sudan and Tanzania.

At the time, Kamau, weighing his options, ultimately declined the offer in hopes of securing a position with the Australian senior national team. 

Now, at 28, he has received a new call-up from current coach Engin Firat to join Harambee Stars. This decision invites scrutiny and debate: Does Bruce Kamau truly deserve this spot?

Born in Kenya and relocated to Australia in 1999 at the tender age of four, Kamau grew up embracing Australian culture and football.

His formative years down under facilitated his assimilation and provided him opportunities in football that he believed were superior to those available in Kenya.  

“We moved to Australia in search of better opportunities. It was a great honour to be called to that team and to experience playing for the national team. Unfortunately, we did not make it as far as we had hoped," Kamau explained in a 2019 interview on KTN’s Daring Abroad.

His journey in professional football saw him playing for Adelaide United and later becoming part of the Australian U23 team that competed in the 2018 Asian Cup.

His performance garnered attention, but not enough to solidify his place in Australia's main squad.

“It was a hard decision to choose Australia over Kenya, but I still have my roots and a lot of pride in Kenya. But opportunity-wise, for myself in football, I think Australia has better opportunities for me, to maximize my career and achieve some of the things I want to achieve," he noted.

However, Kamau's recent career statistics do not paint the picture of a standout performer. 

In the 2023-24 A-League season, he has played 20 matches with no goals or assists, and his team, Perth Glory, lingered at the bottom of the league table. 

Prior to this, he had stints with Western Sydney Wanderers and Greek Super League side OFI Crete, with moderate success.

In light of these statistics, the decision by Coach Firat to call him up has raised eyebrows. 

The debate hinges on whether Kamau's inclusion is based on his potential and past experiences rather than his current form. 

Critics argue that his performance does not merit a place in the national team, considering the talent available within the country and among other diaspora players.

However, Kamau's international experience and the versatility he has shown in various leagues around the world could be assets that Coach Firat is keen to utilize.

His understanding of different playing styles and environments could provide a unique advantage to the team dynamics.

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