For a player to score an average of almost a goal a match immediately upon returning from a year out of active football is an outstanding achievement at this level.
That is the story of hot Ulinzi Stars striker Stephen Waruru who currently tops the SportPesa Premier League scorers’ charts with seven goals from nine matches.
The 26-year old spent the whole of 2015 as well as half of the 2016 season away on military duty, and only returned to active football in March this year.
He told Kpl.co.ke that while he would like to win the Golden Boot a second time, he is cautious about making that declaration this early in the season.
“I don’t like to talk about my personal goals, but I would like to win the Golden Boot. I would also like to win the SPL trophy with Ulinzi Stars but it is still too early to dream about that. The league is very competitive and it is difficult to predict what will happen in the coming months,” he said.
The explosive international won the league Golden Boot in 2011 with 12 goals scored for the soldiers. He is already half way through that tally in this year’s campaign.
Waruru, who is currently in residential training with Kenya in Machakos ahead of their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Sierra Leone on Saturday in Freetown, admitted that getting his form back after such a long lay-off wasn’t easy and like the soldier he is, he has had to work very hard, through sweat and pain.
“It’s been very tough. Remember that for close to two years I was not training. So when I came back it took so long for me to first get into shape, and then regain my form. I missed the last five games last season, and I didn’t even play in the CAF Confederation Cup. I missed the first games because I was not yet at full fitness.
“But I remember telling my colleagues that I would come back in the fourth match and score, and they laughed about it. Yet, when I was drafted onto the squad for the first time that is exactly what happened.
“I am not there yet. I know that I have to put in more effort and continue working hard. Seven goals in nine matches is not worth boasting about because the work of a striker is to score goals. “
He smiled and continued to talk: “Right now our target as a team is to stay within the top three positions, but winning the trophy will be a pleasant bonus for me and my mates. The league is quite competitive and there are any number of four, five teams that could win it, we included, but I do not want to start making any early predictions,” he said.