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Benson Omala: KPL's deadly force on goal and defender's worst nightmare

Benson Omala currently plays for Gor Mahia and has been widely considered Kenya's next great striker, even drawing comparisons to the likes of Oliech and Olunga.

Gor Mahia striker Benson Omalla celebrates equalizer against AFC Leopards on May 8th 2022 during FKF premier league match at Moi International Sports, Centre, Kasarani.

Four years ago, Benson Omala was a secret in waiting. Given his untapped talent, it would require a dosage of closely monitored tasks to get him through the rigors of first-team football.

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Many hyped youngsters, fresh from the academy production line, often need to catch up in the first hurdle of climbing through the ranks of A-team sport, with woeful tales to tell.

For Omala, it was as though he was destined for the big occasion. The usual nervousness and stage fright accompanying first-team games, especially on debut day, did not manifest on Omala's face. Even if it did, it certainly was not revealing.

On November 25, 2019, Omala's former club, Western Stima, was staring at defeat against KCB in a Kenyan Premier League match at Moi Stadium in Kisumu. Stima's then-coach, Salim Babu, introduced Benson Omala in the second stanza, and the then-teenager took in all and scored a 91st-minute winner.

Keen to prove Coach Salim Babu's faith in him was not an error of judgment, Omala set about stamping his footmarks early. With an eye for a pass and agility defining his age, the lanky forward did not look out of place and soon had spectators jumping off their seats.

Those who followed his train-speed progression would not gape surprised by how he would blossom. A deadly force on his day in office, he can be unplayable in how he bosses the forward line.

During his stay at now defunct Western Stima, Omala registered several records. He became the first player in the team to hit a hat-trick in a KPL match, a description he wrote against Zoo FC in December 2019.

Record KPL champions Gor Mahia started to keep tabs on him, and on September 2020, the young Omala was Green and White. In his first months at the glamour club, the star struggled to secure game time at K'Ogalo, mostly playing second fiddle to Nicholas Kipkirui and, lately, Brazilian Wilson Silva.

Luck of game time didn't deter him from greatness as he continued with his development and ambition to play in one of the leagues in Europe; his dream came on March 2021 when Swedish side Linkopings came in calling and took him overseas on a six-month loan deal.

Omala cut short his loan deal and returned home after two months, citing frustrations with his playing position, and rejoined Gor Mahia. Those who have followed his train-speed progression would not gape in surprise over how he would blossom after his return to K'Ogalo.

Today, Omala is FKF Premier League's most sought-after goal machine. His form this season has been terrific, scoring six goals in the combined eight games he has featured.

In the first four matches of the season, Gor Mahia was far away from the current number-five position. Calls were all over from fans for technical changes to be done, but the sharpness of Omala has brought back the calm.

A quick-paced marksman capable of blasting balls with either leg, Omala has carried the club single-handedly on his shoulders with his goal of producing a magical performance.

There are, however, speculations that the 21-year-old will be a one-season wonder, which remains to be seen, but for now, he is basking in his latest glory.

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