Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba is confident that Kenya will not struggle to replace captain Michael Olunga as there is another talented young striker capable of taking over.
Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba believes Kenya should not be worried about the striker who will succeed Harambee Stars captain Michael Olunga since 17-year-old Luis Ingavi has what it takes.
The attacker landed a football scholarship at Florida-based Montverde Academy in August after shining for Goseta Secondary School and has been learning from the best since.
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Harambee Stars fans have expressed mixed reactions to Michael Olunga’s goal scoring performance against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr, making comparisons to his recent profligate performances for Kenya.
Montverde Academy is world-renowned for producing various professional athletes, including Former St Anthony's Boys Kitale captain Philip Mayaka, and Namwamba believes the talent the player has added to the skills he is learning will propel him to national team stardom.
“Our furthest target is 2030 World Cup which will partly be played on an African continent in Morocco,” Namwamba said on Saturday while explaining why Kenya is planning ahead.
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The left winger started his career at Newcastle United and climbed up the ranks from the Youth team to the Under 18 and finally the Under 21 side.
“I travelled to Montverde Academy in Orlando, Florida to meet 17-year-old Luis Ingavi straight from Goseta Secondary School now on a football scholarship at Montverde Academy.”
“We stood there watching Ingavi playing football against boys from Ghana, Brazil, Argentina, and many other places and I was like Kenya should not be too worried about the successor to Michael Olunga. He is right here, he is 17 and is being trained at the very highest level, at elite level.”
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Harambee Stars captain Michael Olunga was the subject of criticism from a section of Kenyans who feel he has not been impressive for the national team in recent matches
Besides Ingavi, the Sports CS also has high hopes in four other Kenyan youngsters who also secured scholarships elsewhere. Among them is St Anthony’s Boys Kitale wunderkind Aldrine Kibet, who is currently at the Nastic Soccer Academy (NSA) in Tarragona, Spain.
“We hosted the families of three other boys who were with us at that talent camp; Aldrine Kibet, Amos Wanjala, Alvin Kasavuli. We hosted them before they travelled to Tarragona in Spain,” he added.
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“Now, actually four boys because another boy called Ezekiel Ngua from Kilifi county has since joined the group so in Tarragona alone, we have four boys in addition to Luis Ingavi we have five boys direct out of our school ecosystem following that pipeline.”
Namwamba believes focusing on young talent from schools is the way to go if Kenya is to succeed in football with hopes that the aforementioned will serve as an example when they finally lead Harambee Stars to success in the near future.
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The Kenyan right winger joined Chelsea as an Under 10 and spent close to a decade with the Blues before he was deemed surplus to requirements.
“Every week, I get clips of those boys, I see them. Amos is a central defender, a classical sweeper, Kasavuli is a central midfielder, Kibet is a creator, classic No.10, Ingavi is a classic striker, a No.9. I see a spine for Harambee Stars of tomorrow in those young people,” said Namwamba.