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The 23-year-old was outstanding in the season past and helped his team finish second in the league to qualify for the Europa League

Kenya defender Joseph Okumu has been rewarded for his outstanding displays this season for IF Elfsborg.

The Harambee Star played a crucial role in helping the team finish second in the Swedish top tier and as a result, qualified for next season’s Europa League competition.

“Linn Sångberg and Joseph Okumu presented as this year’s breakthrough in IF Elfsborg 2020,” the club announced in an Awards Gala held on Saturday night. 

“Big congratulations.” 

Elfsborg finished second to Malmo after 30 matches with 51 points whereas the leaders had nine more while Hacken, who finished third, had two fewer points.

“It is an honour; [Saturday] at the IF Elfsborg Gala I was recognized and awarded the Breakthrough Player for the 2020 season. An amazing season it has been,” the 23-year-old reacted after he was feted. 

The Kakamega High School Alumnae was injured in a game Elfsborg beat hosts Kalmar FF 2-1 in July and was sidelined for three weeks.

The centre-back joined the Swedish side after the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Egypt.

Okumu played for Kenya U20 and U23 before he graduated into the senior side, where he has been a regular member. He rose to the occasion in Sebastien Migne’s Afcon squad in Egypt and has never looked back.

He ended up playing a vital role in the African biennial tournament when Brian Mandela got injured during a pre-season training camp in France.

The youngster played in all three matches in Group C – the 2-0 loss to Algeria before helping the team to a 3-2 win against neighbours Tanzania and eventually losing 3-0 to Senegal

Okumu joined Chemelil Sugar after completing his high school education from Kakamega High School. He remained at the club for only six months before venturing outside the country where he joined Free State Stars of South Africa.

He left for the USA and joined AFC Ann Arbor in 2018 before leaving for his former club Real Monarchs.

Of Kenyans playing in European competitions, Victor Wanyama, Dennis Oliech and McDonald Mariga qualified for the Champions League with different clubs during their careers.

Eric Ouma and Okumu are the current Kenyan high profile players to be playing in Europe after the exit of Wanyama, who joined Montreal Impact from Tottenham in March.

Arnold Origi, who was recalled for the Afcon qualifiers against Comoros in November, left Finnish side HIFK Fotboll recently.

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December 20, 2020
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