Onyango: Gor Mahia defender reveals how five minutes killed Afcon dream

The 27-year-old explains how it felt after being ruled out of the biennial competition with a toe injury

Kenya defender Joash Onyango was devastated and frustrated by not taking part in the 2019 African Cup of Nations in Egypt.

Kenya qualified for the biennial competition for the first time since 2004 and were pooled alongside eventual winners Algeria, runners-up Senegal and neighbours Tanzania.

The Gor Mahia defender had played a major role for Sebastien Migne’s side during qualifying and was set to be involved in Egypt, but it all changed suddenly.

“With just five minutes left we end the training session, I injured my toe, just five minutes,” Onyango told Goal on Monday.

“It was demoralizing and frustrating, I was heartbroken knowing my dream of playing in the Afcon has been shuttered.

“The competition was my opportunity to compete against the best and gauge your ability but it was all gone, gone in the last five minutes of our training session.”

The 27-year-old has admitted the situation affected him and it took time before he came to terms with what happened.

“I was psychologically prepared to play for Kenya and help the team to the best of my ability. It was not easy watching matches from the bench, I was down and fighting to accept what had happened,” he continued.

“During our Chan qualifier [againsts Tanzania], I was still not at my best because of what had happened. It took me a long time before clearing it from my mind but I finally managed and focused to get even better.”

The experienced defender has also lauded Migne for the faith he had in him.

“[Migne] gave players a chance to show what they can do and if you impressed during training sessions he was sure to give you a game. It did not matter where you were playing, it was down to attitude and performance on the pitch,” Onyango added.

“I appreciate the chances I got and will strive to do my best whenever the opportunity to play for Kenya comes.”

The K’Ogalo defender was involved as Kenya drew 1-1 with Egypt away in November 2019 during the 2021 Afcon qualifier before again producing an impressive performance at home against Togo in the same month. 

His contract with Gor Mahia comes to an end at the end of the season.