Allan Wetende Wanga is one of the most recognizable names in Kenyan football, with a professional career spanning over 12 years for some of the best clubs in Kenya and beyond. He is also the top scorer in the Kenyan premier league, with a superb 18 goals for Kakamega Homeboyz, ahead of younger competitors such as Uganda’s Umaru Kasumba and Mathare United’s Clifford Nyakeya.
He is enjoying an Indian summer. Merriam Webster defines an Indian summer as “a happy or flourishing period occurring toward the end of something.” At 34 years of age, Wanga is possibly nearing the end of his football career at the top end of Kenyan football. Yet, likely to be named the top scorer in the Kenyan premier league, as well as being named in Harambee stars preliminary squad for the June African cup of nations 2019 competition; this is as flourishing a period in Wanga’s career as any before.
Wanga has played for many clubs across three continents, turning out for Tusker FC, Sofapaka, Tanzania’s Azam FC, Angola’s Petro Atletico, Vietnamese side Hoang Anh Gia Lai and Sudanese giants al Mereikh. This desire to travel, push boundaries, test himself far away from his comfort zone and sample different cultures in the world, makes him possibly one of the most experienced and vital members of the Harambee stars squad.
He is a key member of a strike force that will be tasked with scoring goals for Harambee stars in an AFCON group that includes Senegal, Algeria and Tanzania. He will likely be tasked with providing backup to first-choice striker Michael Olunga, (another Kenyan footballer who has played all over the world) at AFCON, in head coach Sebastian Migne’s 4-5-1 formation, as well as providing leadership and experience to a group of players that is mostly based locally and has not savoured different climates and football cultures outside Kenya’s borders.
Conversations we had with him via phone led me to believe that he is very confident that Harambee Stars “will surprise people” and do well at the AFCON 2019. It is not impossible that the team qualifies to the next round in the tournament (the last 16).
Allan Wanga is already looking at a future outside football. In December 2018, he graduated with a Diploma in Human Resource Management from the University of Nairobi. Does this hint at a future career in the dugout as a head coach, following in the footsteps of among others, John Baraza and Francis Kimanzi?
He was player-coach for a few matches for Kakamega Homeboyz in December, when the head coach was fired for allegedly colluding with players to throw matches. He did not lose a single match, put of the five matches he was in charge, Kakamega Homeboyz drew two and won three.
However, when I asked him this question, he was not too sure about coaching as a career path, although he was quick to point out that we can never rule anything out in life.
Kakamega Homeboyz is currently fourth in the Kenyan Premier League, and they are looking forward to a top five position for the season. With only four matches left towards the end, it seems likely they will achieve their aims.
Whatever path Allan Wanga chooses to take in future, he is likely to keep exacting the same high standards, commitment and hard work that he has done all through his career, that has ensured he remains an important member of Kakamega Homeboyz and Harambee stars even near the sunset of his playing days.
I wish him the best of luck.