Gor right back expected to play a key role at the Afcon Cup next month


It’s no coincidence that Philemon Otieno was among the few names to feature in both the African Cup of Nations squad as well as the CHAN preliminary team.

The Gor Mahia right-back has become so indispensable for club and country due to his reliability whenever on the pitch.

Just five years ago, little was known of the player fondly called Mbish back at Lucky Summer, where he grew up with his two sisters. Playing in midfield for Ken Kenyatta’s struggling Ushuru side, Mbish was always a cut above his team-mates and there was little surprise when he was signed as a long term replacement for combative Collins Okoth, who incidentally grew up in nearby Babadogo.

As fate would have it, an injury to Karim Nizigiyimana opened an unlikely door for him, a path that would eventually lead to the national team, Harambee Stars. With the Burundian absent, Otieno was tasked to play right back—a transition that was so effortless for the 26-year-old.

“Every footballer always wants an opportunity to play. So when I was told I would be playing right back, I just had to re-adjust my game and with teammates always supporting me, it became easier as I continued to play there. Nevertheless, I have been a versatile player for long and playing alongside more experienced players helped a lot,” said Otieno.

A year after joining Gor and impressing in an unfamiliar role, Otieno won his first cap for the national team against Swaziland and has not looked back since becoming part of Sebastien Migne’s starting eleven and winning three league titles with K’Ogalo.

“It’s the dream of every player to represent his country. I am grateful to have been part of this historic journey back to the African Cup of Nations and hopefully, we will now qualify for this big tournament consistently going forward,” he added.

Gor assistant coach Zedekiah Otieno, himself a right back of no mean repute during his playing days in the early nineties, averred that Otieno has all the attributes of succeeding even beyond this shores.

“His talent as a footballer was never in doubt but it is his humility and willingness to learn that has taken him to this level and I still believe he will improve a lot in the coming years wherever he will be whether here or abroad,” offered Zico. Mbish will be part of the Afcon squad that will leave the country on Friday for France, where they are scheduled to intensify their training ahead of the start of the Africa Cup of Nation in Egypt on the June 19th.


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