Olunga: Kenya forward frustrated as Kashiwa Reysol lose to Kashiwa Antlers

The Harambee Stars striker was left frustrated after they suffered a home defeat in a J1 League match played on Saturday

Kenya international Michael Olunga has described their 3-2 defeat to Kashiwa Antlers on Saturday as a “difficult game”.

It was a day of mixed fortunes for Olunga as he ran clear in the J1 League Golden Boot race but on a day Reysol lost a vital league match at home.

The former Gor Mahia striker struck the first goal of the encounter at Sankyo Frontier Kashiwa Stadium in the 57th minute with an assist from Masatoshi Mihara.

Kento Misao equalised for the visitors in the 72nd minute before Olunga’s second effort allowed Kashiwa Reysol to regain the lead in the 84th minute.

Kashima Antlers punished Olunga and his teammates in the last two minutes when they managed to score two goals that tilted the scale of the match in their favour.

Shoma Doi scored in the 89th minute with an assist from Katsuya Nagato. Doi earned his brace in the first minute of added time as Kashiwa Reysol failed to deal with constant attacks from their opponents in the last moments of the tie.

“We fought till the end with 10 men but it was frustrating not to get something from the match,” Olunga wrote on his social media pages.

“We must pick positives and get going again next week. Thank you for the support and I thank God for the two more goals today [Saturday].

“We can pick some positives from the game and shift our focus to the next match.”

The 0-0 draw against Oita Trinita last weekend saw Olunga miss out on breaking a league record set by Julio Salinas of scoring in eight consecutive matches. The Spaniard – who was turning out for Yokohama Marinos – had set the record in the 1997/1998 season.

The Kenyan star now has 14 goals and is the run-away leader in the Golden Boot race at the moment as his closest challenger is Leonardo Nascimento of Urawa Reds, who has eight goals.

Coincidentally, Olunga and Leonardo were the closest rivals for the J2 League Golden Boot in 2019 but the Brazilian went on to win the award in a tight contest.

Leonardo, then playing for Albirex Niigita, scored 28 goals and Olunga ended the season with one strike fewer.

Olunga scored a hat-trick – his first in the J1 League – on July 26 against Vegalta Sendai when Kashiwa Reysol emerged 5-1 victors as he raced clear of his 2020 rivals.

After 12 matches, Kashiwa Reysol are now seventh with 20 points whereas the win helped Kashima Antlers pick up their 18th point from their 13th matches. They are ninth on the log.

Kashiwa Reysol will next face Cerezo Osaka in the quarter-finals of the J League Cup on Wednesday before taking on Shimizu S-Pulse in a league match on Saturday.

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