Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What Next for McDonald Mariga?

When 25 year-old Kenyan star, McDonald Mariga, made history as his country’s first footballer to play in the UEFA Champions League back in March 2010, his future looked a very bright one indeed. 

Mariga came on as a sub for Inter in their victory over Chelsea and just a few months earlier, he had come very close to becoming the first Kenyan to play in the English Premier League, when big-spending Manchester City tried to sign him from Italian club Parma.

Unfortunately, the British Foreign Office’s denial of a work permit for Mariga put paid to that ambition, and he joined Inter Milan instead. His arrival in Italy immediately improved Milan’s standing in the odds betting.

There, coach, José Mourinho, tended to use Mariga as a “super sub”, as in his appearance against Mourinho’s former club, Chelsea. But, after the coach left for Real Madrid, Mariga was side-lined and was loaned out first to La Liga club, Real Sociedad, then subsequently back to Parma.

And in April 2012, the Kenyan midfielder ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament during Parma’s 2-0 league win over Novara. This kind of injury usually takes several months to recover from, so it is doubtful whether the Kenyan footballer will be fit again for the start of the new season.

More importantly still, it means Mariga is unlikely to play for Kenya in their 2014 World Cup and 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, during the summer. The Kenyan national side is due to travel to Togo for the second leg of their African Nations Cup qualifier, over the weekend of 15-17 June, taking a 2-1 lead from February's first leg with them. 

Mariga missed that win after he left the team in a row over money, so there were already many doubts over the 25 year-old’s future involvement with the Harambee Stars, even before he sustained the cruciate injury. Kenya are also due to play Malawi and Namibia in World Cup qualifiers in June, Nigeria are the third team in Group F.

So, for Mariga, things have gone from bad to worse after such a promising time, just two short years ago. There is a way back for the player in these, his prime playing years, if he can overcome his injury problems. Otherwise, his future is in his own hands. 

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