Being axed from Kenya’s Harambee Stars 23-man squad to the last Afcon in Egypt was devastating to Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Anthony Agay Akumu.
Agay, who was then turning out for Zambian giants Zesco United, was amongst three players who were dropped by coach Sebastien Mignè before the team left for Cairo from a camp in France.
Others were injured duo of Brian Mandela and Christopher Mbamba, the former, however, stayed with the team throughout the campaign.
In an interview with Daily Nation’s Samuel Gacharira, Agay recounted the whole experience of missing an opportunity to play at the grandest African football platform.
“The coach called me and informed me of his decision a day before he named his final squad. I told him: It’s okay. The following day after he named the squad my teammates and friends consoled me a lot. We thought we would stay a little longer with the team in the camp until they left for Egypt but then we were told we had to leave that night after being dropped,” Akumu opened up on his last days at Kenya’s training camp in Marcoussis in Paris, France.
“It was a long flight back since we had to connect from Paris to Nairobi through Abu Dhabi. I slept the entire journey. When I got home and I was all alone that’s when it hit me that I was going to miss out on a big occasion despite participating in many qualifying campaigns. I couldn’t sleep that night, I asked myself too many questions, why me? Am I not good enough? What is it that I lacked?” Akumu painfully recollects of his first night upon landing in Nairobi.
“While at the airport in Paris, Akumu had received a call from Zesco United’s assistant coach Alpha Lupiya requesting him to join the team for the final stage of their transitional season where they were still in contention for the Zambian Super League title and Barclays Cup. To ease his emotional pains, he decided to fly to Ndola and link up with his club.
“I couldn’t stay in regrets so I decided to pick myself up and go to Zambia to do what I know best. I’m happy it wasn’t in vain because I helped my club win the league and the domestic cup. This success made me forget about the Afcon omission but whenever Kenya was playing and the national anthem was being sung the pain of being dropped came back. I felt so bad, you imagine you would be the one playing at such a big stage, against top players,” Akumu said.
Despite the Afcon set back, the former Gor Mahia midfielder sealed a dream three-year deal move to Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs in South Africa which guarantees him about Kshs 1.5million per month.