Kennedy Owino: From forgettable Gor Mahia stint to heroic switch to AFC Leopards

29th January 2024

The highly-rated defender completed his move to AFC Leopards from Posta Rangers on 26 January 2024.

Kennedy Owino. PHOTO| FKFPL
Kennedy Owino. PHOTO| FKFPL
  • Prior to his move to AFC Leopards, Owino was once a Gor Mahia player.
  • He signed for the record Kenyan champions back in September 2020.
  • He however left the club after six months without playing a match.
  • Now, he moves to Leopards a hero after impressive performances at Posta Rangers.

When the lean Kennedy Owino was announced as a new Gor Mahia signing back on 2 September 2020, expectations must have been high for the then 24-year-old centre-back.

Born and bred in Kano, Kisumu County, Owino's transfer to the record Kenyan champions was seen by many as a dream move at the time.

Having spent time at Chemelil Sugar, Sony Sugar and Western Stima before, teams that had cumulatively not won a league title since 2006, the towering defender knew he stood a higher chance (no pun intended) of silverware after joining a K’Ogalo side that had clinched seven titles in the eight seasons between 2013 and 2020.

After all, that is what players have done after joining the dominant outfit - walk in with nothing then after a season or two if most, emerge a decorated player with titles to their name.

However, for Owino, that was not the case. At least not in the early stages of his journey.

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Nearly six months after signing a reported three-year deal, things failed to take the desired course. Life at Gor Mahia was simply not working out, for him.

The budding defender was left frustrated due to a lack of playing time at a club that was busy fighting to add to their glittering trophy cabinet in the quest for a record-extending 20th league crown.

Since signing, Owino had not even made a senior appearance to aid in the team’s bid. Ordinarily, he felt out of the picture, lonely and not useful.

By the end of February, he had enough.

“I never made the senior team at Gor Mahia so after around six months I decided to leave because I was not getting any game time,” the Kisumu Boys alumnus told SportPesa News in an exclusive interview.

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He would go back to Western Stima where he pumped some air back into his stagnating career.

After completing the season, his Stima side got relegated but he managed to seal a deal to join Posta Rangers.

It is at the mailmen where the player grew in confidence and stature as he became one of the dependable players at the club, ultimately being entrusted with the armband after impressive and consistent performances from a defender who had the benefit of experience.

In the 23/24 season, suitors including Tusker and Kenya Police started milling around with his Rangers side, under the stewardship of John Kamau, delivering top performances as they stayed at the top of the table for a big chunk of the first half of the season.

When the January 2024 window swung open, it is 12-time Kenyan champions AFC Leopards, who won the race to acquire him after a protracted battle between the two clubs on the transfer fee.

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Sources close to the deal disclose that Rangers had earlier asked for 1 million for the defender but Leopards were hesitant to release such amount for a player who was to leave for free in June next year.

At the time, Owino was hellbent on leaving, informing Posta about his desire for a new challenge.

“It was a lot of back and forth because I was the club captain and Posta had the demands they wanted to be met before allowing me to leave. Ultimately, I just told the club to reach an agreement with the team because I had made up my mind on leaving,” Owino told SportPesa News.

Eventually, Ingwe agreed to pay Ksh 800,000 and Posta accepted the offer.

At Ingwe, Gor Mahia’s eternal rivals, Owino joins with a heroic status attached to his back. A ball-playing defender and a leader who has been brought to steady the ship at a side currently in tenth place on 24 points, nineteen behind table-toppers Gor.

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In retrospect, the player feels the journey has been worthwhile. Now is his time to shine.

“I just felt like I needed a step up in my career and decided to pursue a new challenge that AFC Leopards managed to provide.

"I did not make it at Gor Mahia but I did not let that put me down. Instead, I used it as motivation and that left me wanting to be even better."

I just want to help the club achieve its goals and return to the top,” Owino concluded.

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