Is winning KPL Player of the Year Award a curse for local players? examines some of Kenya’s top footballers, with exception of John Baraza, who have won accolades on local scene only to fizzle out as quickly as they rose up
By Otieno Otieno

In 2007, the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) introduced an Award to recognize top players at the end of every season.

Since then, the KPL Player of the Year Award has become an important feature of every season with top players feted at a gala ceremony where the who is who in local football gets to be invited.

Looked at critically, the award has turned out to be somewhat of a curse for those who win as most of the feted players just fizzle out immediately after that and are never felt again.

With the exception of the first recipient Sofapaka's John Barasa, who continues to do well on the local scene, the rest have struggled thereafter. Barasa has won the award twice - 2007 and 2009. examines some of Kenya’s top footballers, who have won accolades on local scene only to fizzle out as quickly as they rose up


When Odhiambo was named the best player of the 2010 season, many predicted that the sky was the limit for the then Gor Mahia striker. The player had terrified defenders on the local scene scoring goals with abandon and earned the nickname 'Blackberry'.

A year later he joined Danish side Randers on a five year deal which did not last after he failed to get enough playing time something that made him extremely restless.

The club was forced to terminate his contract by mutual consent. He was signed by Tanzanian club Azam but was released almost immediately due to disciplinary issues.

Odhiambo had no option but to return home where he signed for Nairobi City Stars, a team he would never have thought of joining two years ago.

From City Stars, Odhiambo joined Armenian side Shirak having lost a great opportunity to turn out for a top European club just like fellow Kenyans Dennis Oliech (Ajaccio, France) and Macdonald Mariga (now on loan at Parma of Italy).


Kimani won the 2011 player of the year award and like Odhiambo, the whole world seemed to be at his feet after achieving such a feat and became the only player to be voted the best despite the fact that his former team Mathare United had finished outside the top ten in that particular season.

Kimani was hot property after achieving the milestone and offers came from all over for him to sign a new contract elsewhere. His former club United also offered to extend his stay at the club.

After declining to extend his contract at Mathare United, Kimani signed a contract with JMJ Academy, who allowed him to attend trials in Germany with various clubs but he did not impress any team forcing him to return home and continue training without playing any top level football. He later returned to Belgium where he currently is but it is not clear which club he signed for.


Francis Ouma was virtually unknown on the local football scene before 2008 but at the end of that season not only was he the top scorer but he had also been named the best player in a year that he helped Mathare United win the premiership title.

Ouma was picked from obscurity and given an opportunity on the football pitch by former Harambee Stars coach Francis Kimanzi, who saw in him plenty of potential.

Like his fellow players who would come after him, he made the decision to move out of the local league after that success and his first stop was in Tanzania with giants Azam FC.

He could not honor the requirements of his contract at the Tanzanian club and he left under mysterious circumstances and from there began a European sojourn that took him to Italy, Portugal and Australia.

Eventually, he returned home and joined Sofapaka but he was never the same again and played in less than five matches the whole of the 2011 season. He then joined Mathare United in 2012, where he had a bit of success before signing with Sony Sugar where he remains to date.

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