Sammy Omollo says he will play on in India:
Mohun Bagan's Kenyan star Sammy Omollo wants to keep playing in India and says his success has
changed the attitude of Indian clubs towards Kenyan players.
The Nation, a Kenyan daily which is the largest selling newspaper in East and Central Africa, recently highlighted the
soccer exploits of Sammy Omollo, who has also tasted success with Mohun Bagan's bitter rival East Bengal.
"Omollo is currently one of the hottest properties in the Indian soccer league, earning about Rs. 1.3 million per season.
He has slowly carved a niche for himself in India, thanks to growing sponsorship and an influx of foreign players," said The
Nation's sports editor Elias Makori in an illustrated story.
Omollo was spotted by some East Bengal officials in 1996 when Kenya beat Algeria 3-1 in a World Cup match. He was
reluctant to accept their offer because he thought cricket and hockey were the only games India was well known for. An
erstwhile player in a Nairobi cricket club, he decided to take a three-month contract with the Indian club.
"The contract with East Bengal was just what the defender needed after two unsuccessful trials with English Second
Division club Bournemouth in 1993," says Makori, quoting Omollo as saying that "Indian soccer lacks robustness but is
exciting. There is not much comparison with African standards, though Indian soccer has some advantages and disadvantages.
Indian football is more Brazil-style. They are skilful and technically better than Africans, but they lack will power and
"Before I went to India, there were some Kenyan players who went there and messed up. This made it difficult for other
Kenyan players. Now that I have succeeded, the attitude of Indian clubs towards Kenyan players has changed," Omollo was
quoted as saying.
Omollo, who married last year, lives with his wife in Calcutta. According to the Kenyan who has become a star in India,
the Indian league "is much more tedious than Kenya's." The Kenyan does not wish to play in Europe, South Korea or Japan and
wants to keep playing in India.
But the competition among foreign players in India is tough, with a restriction of three foreigners per club. "Indian
standards have improved tremendously," Omollo says.
by Chander Mehra
appeared in "India Abroad News Service" March 15, 1999
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Thanks to Frederick Noronha for sending me the article.
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