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I want to be Kenyan legend, says Joseph ‘Crouch’ Okumu

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 I want to be Kenyan legend, says Joseph ‘Crouch’ Okumu

Kenya’s defender Joseph Okumu (L) fights for the ball with Senegal’s forward M’baye Diagne during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) Group C football match between Kenya and Senegal at the 30 June Stadium in the Egyptian capital Cairo on July 1, 2019. [Photo by Khaled DESOUKI / AFP]

Harambee Stars and IF Elfsborg (Sweden) defender Joseph ‘Crouch’ Okumu says he is not focused on captaining the senior national team but helping them perform well in international competitions.

The immediate former Kenya U23 skipper, who turned 23 years on May 26, is among the players tipped to take over the armband from the Montreal Impact midfielder Victor Wanyama when he exits the scene.

Prior to his move to the Swedish top tier side in August 2019, Okumu had previously turned out for Kenyan Premier League (KPL) outfit Chemelil Sugar, Green Commandos, Free State Stars (South Africa), AFC Ann Arbor (USA) and Real Monarchs FC (USA).

He has so far made nine appearances for Harambee Stars with his best moment in the national team colours coming during the 2019 African Nations Cup finals in Egypt.

Though the lanky centre half is not salivating for a leadership role in the Francis Kimanzi-coached side, he won’t mind grabbing the opportunity when it comes.

“My main focus is not to have the armband but just represent the nation to the best of my ability. However,  if an opportunity arises for me to lead the team then why not? But it will not be new to me because I had the same role at the U23 team,” Okumu told Standard Sports on phone.

And having made a brilliant start to the season with joint-fourth placed Elfsborg after clocking 180 minutes in their 1-0 away victory to IFK Goteborg and 2-2 draw against visiting Hammarby, Okumu is confident of a better campaign on his full debut season in the Swedish Allsvenskan league.

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The Kakamega High School alumnus has made eight appearances for Elfsborg in all competitions since joining them from Real Monarchs.

Elfsborg travel to Helsingborg tomorrow night (Monday-8pm EAT) for their third league match this season.

“It feels amazing to have started the season with a win. The team is in good spirits and we are working on getting the maximum points in our next match (Helsingborg),” said Okumu.

“But I expect to get as many playing minutes as possible and help the club achieve its goals as I develop myself too.”

He went on to reveal how he is enjoying life at the Boras-based side thanks to his cordial relationship with club manager Bo Jimmy Thelin.

“I have adapted to life here and I’m having a decent time despite the issues to deal with Covid-19.I have also had a good relationship with Jimmy and he is an amazing coach to work with,” said Okumu.

But the defender was quick to wish his Harambee Stars teammate Eric ‘Marcelo’ Ouma a speedy recovery from a fractured leg injury he suffered during training with his new club AIK last month. The left-back will be out for at least six weeks.

“It is really unfortunate and I feel sad for him (Marcelo) getting injured because he was just a few weeks away from making his Allsvenskan debut. I wish him a quick and safe recovery. I can’t wait to see him back on the field again,” he said.

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