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Bolo: KAA Gent will shape Kenya's Okumu for big European move

08:41 BST 22/06/2021
Thomas Ulimwengu of Tanzania and Joseph Okumu of Kenya and Harambee Stars.
The ex-K'Ogalo official feels the towering Harambee Star made the right move by snubbing France and Scotland for Belgium

Former Gor Mahia official Sally Bolo has backed Kenya defender Joseph Okumu to leave a mark in Belgium after signing for KAA Gent.

Goal exclusively reported three days ago the towering Harambee Star was closing in on a move to the Belgium-outfit after he was allowed by his Swedish club, IF Elfsborg, to travel to Gent and complete talks.

On Monday, Gent confirmed the arrival of the centre-back on a four-year contract that will see him stay at the club until 2025.

Bolo now feels despite having other offers from Lorient and Reims of France, and from Rangers FC and Celtic of Scotland,  the 26-year-old had made the right decision to move to Belgium.

"Looking back through history, Europe more specifically, Belgium has always served as a point of entry for players from Africa," Bolo told Goal on Tuesday.

"Victor [Wanyama] and Macdonald [Mariga] are two good examples of players that came from somewhere to end up in big teams in Europe and Okumu is on the right track.

"You can go straight to the big teams, but they will bench you the most of the time, interfering with your form. In addition, lack of playing time causes players to lack match fitness, which is bad for them and results in them not getting national team call-ups.

"Big teams may sign you, but you may end up being loaned to other teams because you are not in the starting line-up. Players cherish playing time, and if you can find a club where you can play the majority of the games, I believe it is in your best interests to join with them.

"As a result, I assume the boy must have considered these factors before deciding to join Gent and I wish him the best of luck."

'Crouch', as the former Real Monarchs star is known, joined the Swedish side after participating in the Africa Cup of Nations with Harambee Stars in 2019.

Although Kenya did not do well in the tournament, the centre-back showed his brilliance especially after being called up to fill the void that injuries created in the national team.
 
Since then, he has been an undroppable figure for the Harambee Stars, as he has also established himself as one of the key players at club level.

After completing his secondary education at Kakamega High, where he featured in national tournaments alongside his Harambee Stars teammate, Eric Ouma, Okumu joined Chemelil Sugar before he secured a move to Free State Stars of South Africa.

From there, the towering defender joined AFC Ann Arbor and Real Monarchs in the United States before Elfsborg - his first European team - signed him two years ago.

Okumu becomes the third Kenyan to play for the side after Robert Mambo and John Muiruri - Harambee Stars' outstanding midfielders at the beginning of the current century.