Widely-criticised Harambee Stars striker Masoud Juma is of the opinion that fans do not hate him, but they have a problem with the fact that he is a product of Kariobangi Sharks.
Sharks is a top flight club associated with current Football Kenya Federation president Nick Mwendwa.
But speaking for the first time amid widespread fan furore over his call up to the national team, Juma said that he is focused on the task at hand, which is to help Harambee Stars get to the second round of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
“In 2016 at Sony Sugar, when I was called to the national team, everyone supported me. When I was called to the U23 team while I was at Bandari, everyone also supported me. The criticism only started when I was called up while playing for Kariobangi Sharks, which is associated with the FKF President. So I don’t think they hate me,” Juma said.
“I was hoping to do well in Libya but it is unfortunate that the political situation there couldn’t allow me to settle. So right now I am fully focused on working hard for a place in the final squad for Afcon and hopefully, things will work out well.”
Juma’s selection to the national team has been met with fierce criticism, with coach Sebastien Migne being accused of favouritism after leaving out Zesco United goal-poacher Jesse Were, SportPesa Premier League top scorer Enosh Ochieng and veteran attacker Allan Wanga from his squad. Migne opted to include the unfit Juma who has been inactive for the last seven months.
Migne however stuck to his guns and included Juma as part of the four forwards who are expected to do duty in Egypt in the Cup of Nations.
The others are Michael Olunga, Ovella Ochieng and John Avire. Migne is currently fine-tuning his squad at the French Rugby Federation in Paris, France ahead of the Afcon.
The Kenyan lads are scheduled to play two friendly matches against Madagascar in Paris on Friday and Democratic Republic of Congo in Madrid on June 15, before making the final trip to Egypt on June 19.
Stars’ first match at the continental tourney will be against Algeria on June 23 in Cairo, before they take on Tanzania in their second match four days later.
The game between Harambee Stars and Senegal will be the last Group C match on July 1.
Goalkeepers: Patrick Matasi, John Oyemba, Faruk Shikhalo
Defenders: Abud Omar, Joash Onyango, Joseph Okumu, Musa Mohammed, David Owino, Bernard Ochieng, Brian Mandela, Philemon Otieno, Eric Ouma
Midfielders: Victor Wanyama, Anthony Akumu, Ismael Gonzalez, Ayub Timbe, Francis Kahata, Ovella Ochieng, Dennis Odhiambo, Eric Johanna, Paul Were, Cliffton Miheso, Johanna Omollo
Forwards: John Avire, Masoud Juma, Christopher Mbamba, Michael Olunga