‘Farewell to 2020 MVP’ – J1 League pays tribute to Olunga after Al Duhail SC switch

Michael Olunga of Al Duhail SC of Kenya and Harambee Stars.
Al Duhail SC.
The Japanese league have showered praise on the towering Harambee Stars forward after he penned a deal in the Middle East

Japanese top-flight J1 League have showered praise on Kenya striker Michael Olunga after he left Kashiwa Reysol for Al Duhail SC in Qatar.

The 26-year-old striker was officially unveiled on Saturday night, three days after he had made his debut for the team in a 3-1 Qatar Stars League defeat against Al Sadd.

Olunga played for 67 minutes with Algeria star Baghdad Bounedjah scoring a hat-trick in the fixture as the Xavi-led team claimed maximum points.

Olunga played for two seasons in Japan with Reysol and managed to finish as the top scorer in the 2020 J1 League season with 28 goals, winning the Golden Boot and the 2020 MVP, becoming the first African player to win the J-League MVP award.

The J1 League has now taken to their social media pages to wish the player good luck in the Gulf by stating: “As he heads on his next adventure in Qatar, we want to thank Michael [Olunga] for his time in League and wish him good luck.

“Farewell to the 2020 Meija Yasuda J1-League MVP, farewell to the 2020 J1 League top scorer, farewell to Michael Olunga, and good luck to you, Engineer...Our Engineer!”

The statement continued: “Kenyan superstar Olunga led not the Kashiwa Reysol attack, but the entire J1 League with his goal-scoring prowess.

“The forward’s 28 goals were 10 more than anyone else and earned him the league’s MVP award, few players have made as massive an impact as Michael Olunga in such a short space of time.”

On Saturday, Al Duhail confirmed the signing of the former Gor Mahia striker on a three-year contract, and following his switch to the Middle East, Olunga has joined former Morocco captain Medhi Benatia in Sabri Lamouchi's team as they compete for the top-flight title.

“The club's management have succeeded in signing a contract with the top scorer in the Japanese League, with a professional contract for three seasons, coming from Kashiwa Reysol,” the club statement read.

Article continues below

Al Duhail are second on the league table with 27 points from 14 matches, and they trail leaders Al Sadd by 11 points.

On Saturday, Al Duhail were guaranteed a spot in the Fifa Club World Cup for the first time in their history following Auckland City's withdrawal due to coronavirus restrictions in New Zealand.

Olunga will be targeting his first victory in Qatar when Al Duhail visit Qatar SC for their next Stars League fixture on Tuesday.