Kashiwa Reysol’s Olunga a doubt for Kenya vs Comoros Afcon qualifiers

Michael Olunga of Kenya and Harambee Stars.
The striker may not travel and join his international teammates after positive Covid-19 cases were announced at his club

Michael Olunga may not link up with the Kenya national team after the Kashiwa Reysol camp was hit by three coronavirus cases.

Japan's Professional League (JPL) confirmed the cases on Tuesday and the match between Kashiwa Reysol and Vegalta Sendai had to be rescheduled.

Olunga’s head coach Nelsinho Baptista was among the confirmed members of the team who had contracted the virus but the identities of the other people who tested positive have not been made public yet.

Olunga is far ahead of his J1 League Golden Boot rivals as he is the leading scorer with 23 goals.

“The J-League has announced that matchweek 26 of the 2020 league match between Vegalta Sendai and Kashiwa Reysol, scheduled for Tuesday, November 3, 2020, at 13:00 JST, has been cancelled after cases of the novel coronavirus [Covid-19] were confirmed in Kashiwa Reysol,” the league managers announced on Tuesday.

“We will inform you of the alternative date as soon as it is decided.

The statement further said: “Multiple PCR (Polymerise chain reaction) tests will be conducted on Kashiwa Reysol players and staff under the guidance of an expert team. Preparations for the Levain Cup will not be halted.”

Olunga’s absence may end up being a huge blow for head coach Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee who is preparing Harambee Stars for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Comoros.

Due to travel restrictions, Olunga was not part of the Kenya team that faced Zambia on October 9 in a friendly tie at Nyayo Stadium which the hosts won 2-1.

Mulee – in his first provisional squad since appointment – called up five strikers and Olunga’s probable absence will mean he will have to look upon the other four.

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Gor Mahia’s Benson Omala, Masud Juma of JS Kabylie, John Avire of Tanta FC and Ulinzi Stars’ Oscar Wamalwa are the other forwards summoned.

The Comoros qualifiers - set for November 11 and 15 - offers Kenya a chance to fight for a first group win since they drew 1-1 against both Egypt and Togo in the first two games.

Harambee Stars are in the hunt for back-to-back Afcon qualifiers since they took part in the 2019 edition but were eliminated in the group stages.