Gor Mahia captain says he contemplated retirement after he was omitted from Stars’ team

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After skippering Gor Mahia to their sixth Kenyan Premier League title in seven years, centre half Haroun Shakava has revealed he contemplated retiring from international assignments after his recent omission from the national team.

Shakava was part of the casualties when Harambee Stars’ coach Sebastien Migne named his provisional squads to the Africa Cup of Nations and Chan tournaments.

The Gor Mahia captain said Migne’s move kept him thinking and even contemplated hanging his boots in as far as the national team is concerned.

The defender’s woes with the national team are believed to have started when he ignored Migne’s call up for the Hero Intercontinental Cup last year in India.

The burly defender gave the Stars call up to represent the country in the inter-continental tournament a wide berth and instead led Gor in their hunt to claim the Cecafa Kagame Cup held in Tanzania. He believes his recent omission was a move to punish him.

He, however, said he respects Migne’s choice and has vowed to fight back for a recall in the future tournaments. Shakava said he rescinded his thoughts of retiring after considering the number of other deserving players who were left out among them Zambian -based Jesse Were.

“At first, I wanted to call it quits but I reconsidered my decision again after an extensive soul searching and consultation.

“I am still young and I have the energy to play both at the club and the national team. From the statistics this season, we have conceded fewer goals and had a rotation in our goalkeeping department which shows that the defence is good.

“In the defence line, I believe I top in terms of playing time and I don’t know what happened during the selection as two of my counterparts (Joash Onyango and Charles Momanyi) were called up,” he noted. 

He added: “I was really surprised when the coach left me behind but I find solace in Jesse Were’s story. There were also other good players, who were left behind and it also happens worldwide. I believe there are no politics or issues of discipline as I hear. I have to keep working hard since I still have the talent and legs and I am sure I will be back to the team.”

Meanwhile, the long-serving Gor Mahia defender has attributed his stellar performance with Kenyan Premier League champions to discipline and dedication. Shakava took his league medal tally to five last weekend after Gor were declared 2018-2019 season champions—a milestone he attributes to discipline since joining the club in 2014.

The battle-hardened centre half was a surprise buy by K’Ogalo in 2014 after impressing in the top flight with Kakamega Homeboyz—barely a year after high school and for the five years he has been with the club, he only missed out on the league podium in 2016 when Tusker were crowned champions.

Aged 18 when he penned his first contract with Gor, Shakava weathered through the competition for playing time and eventually established himself as a reliable defender and his unmoved allegiance to the club saw him being elevated to the rank of captain in 2018. Until last weekend, the centre half has featured in 328 matches and scored 24 goals for Gor.

“It’s a pleasure and honour for me to have won five league titles with Gor. We joined as a large group but many failed to live up to their expectations while others fell by the wayside due to indiscipline. It is only through discipline, dedication and patience that I managed to achieve it individually and as a team. I joined the club as a rookie and had to be patient for playing time and when the opportunity came, I maximised.”

In the current crop of players plying their trade in the local league, only Boniface Oluoch boasts of many league titles as the former Tusker man has won six in the past seven years. Shakava showered the Gor Mahia’s first choice goalkeeper with praise for his services at the two clubs.

“He is a great goalkeeper and still remains our first choice. He is working on his form which dipped slightly when he got injured last month and I am sure he will be back at his best. Six league titles are no mean achievement for any player and I urge the upcoming shot-stoppers to emulate him.”

Having won five league titles with the club, the Vihiga Boys alumnus is uncertain of extending his stay with Gor as his contract is set to expire in December amid a handful of offers lying on his table.

Shakava says his current employers have not engaged him to renew his terms and stay hence leaving him vulnerable to switch his allegiance.

“I am glad I have won every domestic title and with my contract coming to an end in December, I am likely not to stay. I have had offers from the region, continent and globally and I will switch depending on the terms and quality of the league. The management of Gor is yet to engage me and should they offer something better then I will consider.”

As his stay at Gor seems uncertain, Shakava has warned the incoming skipper should he leave to respond positively to criticism. Rwandese national Jacques Tuyisenge, Dennis Oliech and Wellington Ochieng have been wearing the captain’s armband in his absence.

“Gor are a big club with a large fan base and as the leader on the pitch, you must be criticised even when you are not at fault. I learnt from my predecessors and I advise the incoming one should I leave or even when I retire, to take it positively and ensure there are command and harmony in the team. It requires a lot of patience and restraint from responding out of anger.”

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