Harambee Stars striker Michael Olunga’s debut for Qatari giants Al Duhail in their Qatar Stars League clash against leaders Al-Sadd at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha on Tuesday, 12th January, ended in a 3-1 defeat.
According to media reports, Olunga inked a four-year deal worth 7 million euros (Ksh930 million).
The 26-year-old, who joined the club from Japanese top-flight side Kashiwa Reysol, featured for only 66 minutes before he was replaced by Khaled Muhammad.
Algerian superstar Baghdad Bounedjah netted a hat-trick to seal the victory for Spanish coach Xavi Hernandes’s Al Sadd SC. Duhail’s consolation came from Almoez Ali.
With the win, Al Sadd extended their lead at the top of the table by 11 points while Al Duhail, which is coached by Frenchman Sabri Lamouchi, remained in second place.
Olunga has had a successful career in the J-1 league in his two-year stay in Japan, having joined Kashiwa Reysol in 2018 from the Chinese Super League side Guizhou Zhicheng.
In his debut for Kashiwa, he scored seven goals in a 13–1 victory over Kyoto Sanga. He finished that season with 27 league goals as his side won the J2 season and was promoted to the first division.
Last year, he was crowned the J-1 league’s Most Valuable Player (MVP), becoming becomes the first African to win the award, which is the highest in Japan’s J-league. The former Tusker FC, Thika United, and Gor Mahia player scored 28 goals in 32 games, helping his side finish seventh in the league.
Besides the MVP, Olunga also won the Golden Boot in the same season.
Al Duhail will be Olunga’s fifth foreign club after turning out for Djurgardens IF Fotbollsforening, Guizhou Hengfeng FC, Girona (loan), and Kashiwa Reysol.
He will be the second Kenyan to play in the Qatari Star League, after retired Harambee Stars striker Dennis Oliech, who turned out for Al-Arabi SC in 2003-2005.
Al Duhail SC, formerly Lekhwiya SC, has won the Qatar Stars League title seven times.