Rennes tear apart Joseph Okumu's Reims in high-stakes Ligue 1 encounter

STARS ABROAD Rennes tear apart Joseph Okumu's Reims in high-stakes Ligue 1 encounter

Mark Kinyanjui 05:30 - 27.11.2023

The Harambee Stars defender was unable to feature in the match after suffering an unfortunate injury against Kylian Mbappe’s PSG a fortnight ago.

A Joseph Okumu-less Stade Reims were taken apart by Stade Rennes 3-1 on Julien Stéphan’s second spell in charge on Sunday at Roazhon Park.

Okumu was ruled out of the fixture after suffering an injury against a Kylian Mbappe-inspired PSG that effectively even ruled him out of Harambee Stars’ opening two 2026 World Cup qualifying fixtures against Gabon and Seychelles, and it is clear he is still not fit as Will Still did not name him in the squad at all.

This was the start of a new era for Rennes, following the departure during the recent international break of coach Bruno Genesio and the return of Stéphan to the Brittany club’s dugout. 

Rennes were aiming to end a run of five Ligue 1 Uber Eats matches without a victory and they got off to a dream start, taking the lead inside four minutes when Amine Gouiri tucked in from close range after the away defence failed to clear a corner.

Reims, who had been beaten 3-0 at home by Paris Saint-Germain in their last outing before the recent break, got back on level terms in first-half stoppage time as Oumar Diakité headed in a Junya Ito cross, with the goal ultimately being confirmed after a VAR check showed there was no offside in the 45th minute..

Yet Rennes came out firing after the restart and were back in front just 17 seconds into the second half as Benjamin Bourigeaud fired in. And they made it 3-1 midway through the second half as Belgian defender Arthur Theate headed in, giving Rennes just their third league win of the campaign.

Okumu has already shown his quality in France, becoming a key member of Will Still’s side, having started nine of the 10 matches he has been available for.

His impressive displays earned him a spot in the Ligue 1 team of the month for October and it is such recognition and performances that will make it hard for Reims to hold onto him.

The former Chemelil Sugar defender has had a meteoric rise since moving to Europe in 2019 to join Swedish top-flight club IF Elfsborg.

He spent two years in Sweden before switching to Gent in June 2021 in a deal worth €3.5 million and he is now in France after a similarly successful stint in Belgium.

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