Olunga targets Best Player award after winning Qatar league title
Wednesday May 10 2023
By clinching the 2022/23 Qatar Stars League title with Al Duhail and the season’s Golden Boot, Kenyan international football player Michael Olunga increased his chances of winning the Qatar Football Association (QFA) Best Player of the Year Award.
Olunga faces competition from the 2021/22 winner Akram Afifa of Al Sadd and Youssef Msakni of Al Arabi.
As if to make a case for himself in the battle for this season’s Best Player of the Year Award after not being lucky in the last edition, the Kenyan Monday night struck four times to hand Al-Duhail the title with a 5-2 rout over Al-Shamal at the Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium in Doha.
It was the first time that the former Gor Mahia man lifted the Qatar Stars League trophy after moving to Qatar in January 2021. He won this season’s Qatar Cup and Amir Cup (Ooredoo Cup).
"It's great to win the league, we fought until the end to win the title and I thank everyone who contributed to this achievement," he said after the match.
Al-Duhail topped the 12-team Qatar Stars League with 51 points from 22 matches, two points above their closest title challenger Al-Arabi, who thumped Al-Sadd 2-1 in the other crucial match held Monday night.
With the four strikes, Olunga deservedly clinched the golden boot with a massive 22 goals. He has three assists to his name. Olunga was also Ooredoo Cup best scorer with seven goals.
While the Harambee Stars striker was last season’s Qatar Stars League top scorer with 24 goals, Afif who had 14 goals beat him for the Best Player of the Year Award.
This season, Afif scored 10 goals and assisted four times, while Msakni notched 13 goals and assisted five times.
The winners of the award, including those of the Best Player Under-23 and Coach of the Year where Al Duhail tactician Hernan Crespo has been nominated, will be announced on Saturday.
Heading into their final match of the season against Al-Shamal, there was no room for the leaders to falter since only a win guaranteed them the title.
Had Al-Duhail lost or drawn against Al-Shamal, Al-Arabi would have secured the title thanks to their victory over Al-Sadd.
A stalemate in the two crucial matches would have favoured Olunga’s side Al-Duhail.
If Olunga emerges the Best Player in Qatar, then it will be his second award in an Asian country after clinching the J1 League Best Player and top scorer in 2020 while at Kashiwa Reysol.