Work hard and go back to Stars sharper, Mulama tells Omalla

Work hard and go back to Stars sharper, Mulama tells Omalla

Gor Mahia FC forward Benson Omalla celebrates with teammates after scoring against Kariobangi Shark FC during their FKF Premier League match at the Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi on December 18, 2022. The match ended 1-1. PhotoVincent OoroSportpicha

Former Harambee Stars midfielder Titus Mulama has advised Gor Mahia striker Benson Omalla to take his exclusion from the final squad set to play Iran on Tuesday positively, and work hard to come back stronger.

A day to the match at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran, debate is on whether the youthful player, currently Kenyan Premier League (FKF-PL) with 19 goals, should have been retained in the team.

But Mulama, who played for Harambee Stars for more than a decade noted the decision by coach Engin Firat to drop him is justifiable, but does not mean doom and gloom in the future.

In an exclusive interview with Citizen Digital from his base in Switzerland, the retired Mathare United player who was a key member of the 2004 African Cup of Nations squad explained some camp dynamics that could have informed Firat’s decision.

“This being the first match and maybe there is a result that the coach wants to achieve, it easier for him to work with the players he knows. It is easier that way, and maybe test a few new ones depending on the position. For Omalla’s position, such an approach may not have favoured him, because there is a specific objective the coach is going for.

“I however see no cause of alarm as he (Omalla) is still young, and there a big room for him in the future. He just needs to remain calm, go back work hard and I’m sure he will be called up again. A good player who can be consistent will surely get call ups, as the national team is a revolving door. Today you are there, tomorrow you are out,” assessed Mulama.

He was also pointed out that Omalla’s club form may not have been demonstrated in the Harambee Stars camp.

“In the national team camp sometimes things are different. You have been brought near the national team coach and you are competing for a slot against the best in the nation. In that setting, you must show that you really want it. It is no longer about the statistics which earned you the call-up only; it is how you compete for the national team shirt.

“That there is another striker from the same local league (Elvis Rupia) who was retained by the coach tells you something. You cannot rule out tension for a young player because there was no much time to adapt knowing there are players who have been there for long…” averred Mulama.

Beyond Tuesday’s match, Mulama feels a serious long term project needs to be put in place for the success of Harambee Stars.

“There is a certain need for this match, and the coach has to handle it the best way possible. Having been out of international football you definitely need a starting point, but we must think of where we want to be in about five to six years.

“See, if we revert to the usual tact of preparing for matches with all the energy without a defined youth system, we will not see much change. We also must be consistent, not changing players and the technical bench every now and then,” he advised.

Kenya is now starting afresh after the FIFA suspension which paralyzed not only the national team but the local leagues and the operations of the federation, after former Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed disbanded FKF in 2021.

Firat has been handed a three-year contract, and his first match is Tuesday night 8:00pm EAT against the Asian giants.


Harambee Stars Iran Engin Firat Benson Omalla Tehran Titus Mulama

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