It is no longer a big deal seeing Kenyan players feature for some of the world’s most established clubs in the world’s big leagues. Kenya can now boast of names such as Victor Wanyama, McDonald Mariga, Michael Olunga, Ayub Timbe, Johana Omollo, David Ochieng and others who ply their trade in top divisions in some of the world’s most followed leagues.
With a new crop of players coming through, it seems the trend will continue and after seeing France become world champions for the second time in their history with a squad largely built of players with African roots, we take a look at some of the players with Kenyan heritage plying their trade abroad and eligible to play for Harambee Stars but are yet to receive the call.
Philip Mwene will for the 2018-19 season become the third player with Kenyan roots to feature in the German Bundesliga after Divock Origi and Linton Maina (who is also on this list) as he is set to feature for Mainz 05.
The 24 year old right back signed for the RhinelandPalatinate club at the conclusion of the 2017-18 season after impressing for Kaiserslautern in the second tier.
Born to a Kenyan father and an Austrian mother in Vienna, Mwene is eligible to play for both countries though he has leaned more to the Austrian national team as he has already racked up 17 appearances playing for its junior teams.
But with no senior cap for the Eastern European nation, Mwene is prime for Harambee Stars to fill that right back role that has seen numerous faces in recent years.
Handwalla Bwana became Seattle Sounder’s youngest ever goal scorer at 18 years and 319 days when he netted the winner in a Major League Soccer (MLS) clash against champions Toronto FC in May of this year.
The goal capped a fine start to the senior team for the speedy winger after breaking into the first team at the start of the 2018 season from the club’s academy.
It has been an impressive debut season, one that has seen him make eight appearances with five of them being starts. He also featured in the CONCACAF Champions League as the Seaport City side exited the tournament at the quarter-finals stage.
His breakout season was however derailed as he suffered an injury right after the Toronto goal and he spent a lengthy spell out.
Born in Mombasa to Somali parents, Bwana spent the first six years of his life at the Kakuma refugee camp before his parents were relocated to the United States in 2010, first to Atlanta before finally moving and settling in Seattle.
He is eligible to play for Kenya and Somalia as well as the United States.
Esbjerg FB returned to the Danish Top Division and will feature there in the 2018/19 season. Esbjerg is home to Kenyan defender Daniel Anyembe who is born to a Kenyan father and Danish mother. The 19 year old joined the club in 2016, a season before the side suffered relegation to the second tier.
A right back by trade, Anyembe can also play as a winger and has represented the country of his birth at youth level.
The 2017/18 promotion winning campaign was his most active for the club as he featured a total of 15 times, seven of which were starts. He could have featured in more games if not for an injury he sustained at the close of the regular season that kept him out of the playoffs.
Born in Nairobi to Kenyan parents in September of 2000, Vincent is a youth apprentice at English Championship side Bristol City where he features for the U-19 team.
A winger blessed with explosive pace, Vincent has previously confessed that he would seriously consider playing for Harambee Stars if a call up ever came his way. He is also eligible to play for England having been in the country ever since he was a toddler.
He identifies more to Ivory Coast and Crystal Palace winger Wilfred Zaha who he says is his favourite player and who he tries to mold his game around.
Born in Berlin Germany to a Kenyan father, 19 year old Linton Maina is another prospect for Harambee Stars who has already had a taste of first team football in the German Bundesliga. The attacking midfielder who is in the books at Hannover 96, made his topflight debut for the side during the 2017/18 season when he came off the bench in a league match away to Borussia Dortmund in March.
He followed that up with his second appearance away to Bayer Leverkusen in the final game of the season and made an impact as he provided the assist in his team’s second goal in a 3-2 loss.
Maina is held in very high regard and has featured for the German U-16’s all the way through to the U-19’s scoring once in the process.
Others are; Bernard Mwarome and Tobias Ndung’u.
Mwarome, a defensive midfielder by trade, currently plays for German fourth division side Bonner SC and once featured for Bayern Munich’s youth teams.
Ndung’u was born 25 years ago in Gentofte Denmark and has featured for the country’s youth teams. A left back who can play anywhere across the back four, Ndung’u started his playing career with FC Copenhagen and currently plays for Fremad Amager in Denmark’s second division.
*This article was originally published in the 13th edition of the Soka magazine