BY STEVE AYOO
Harambee Stars striker Masoud Juma has hinted that his association with Kenyan Premier League side Kariobangi Sharks, owned by Football Kenya Federation President Nick Mwendwa, is the major cause for negative criticism labeled against him.
Juma’s call-up for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations has elicited never-ending heated debate with many a Kenyan football fan questioning how a player who has barely touched the ball since the turn of the year was preferred to those deemed more deserving.
After scoring 24 goals in 31 appearances for Sharks who he joined from Sony Sugar in January 2017 and left a year later, Masoud has been on a football journey with seemingly no fruitful end. Stints in South Africa with Cape Town City, Dibba AL Fujairah in UAE and Al-Nasr Benghazi in Libya have all produced a common denominator: failure.
It was hence such a shocker that he made it to the list of 27 summoned for a pre-Africa Cup of Nations camp that is ongoing in France at the expense of, notably, Allan Wanga and Enosh Ochieng who bagged 18 and 20 goals respectively in the recently concluded 2018-19 Kenyan Premier League.
I know the problem
Masoud, a KPL golden boot winner before going to seek new greens, however, seems to know why there has been such negativity, hinting it has nothing to do with his football ability.
“In 2016 at Sony Sugar, when I was called to the national team, everyone supported me. When I was called to the U23 team while I was at Bandari, everyone also supported me,” he said.
“The criticism only started when I was called up while playing for Kariobangi Sharks, which is associated with the FKF President (Mwendwa),” he concluded.
The 23(!)-year-old, who spearheaded Kenya’s attack in the final Afcon qualifier away to Ghana, went on to clarify why things didn’t work out in Libya.
“I was hoping that I would do well in Libya but it is unfortunate that the political situation there couldn’t allow me to settle.
“So right now I am fully focused on working hard for a place in the final AFCON team and hopefully, things will work out well,” he concluded.
Kenya is scheduled to play Madagascar in a friendly in Paris, Friday evening but with lead striker Michael Olunga expected to link up with the team a day before due to a late release by his Japanese club Kashiwa Reysol, Juma could get the nod to start upfront.
Kenyan fans and sports journalists will no doubt focus on his performance. A below par show will raise up the decibels, an improved one will quieten a few.