Bernard Ochieng: From the plains of Nyando to a top Kenyan defender

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Benard Ochieng left) with Josh Onyango after Kenya beat Ethiopia 3-0 in a CAF Qualification match at the Kasarani stadium. Photo by Alvin Wesonga

For an avid Kenyan football fan, the name Bernard Ochieng definitely rings a bell given the impressive performance he has had since he joined Kenyan Premier League side Vihiga United in 2016. Fondly known as ‘Bena’ in football circles, the former Kenyatta University skipper boasts a rich profile having received his first call-up to the national team at the age of 20 and later on came to be a regular figure in the Harambee Stars’ call-up.

Born and bred in Ahero, an urban center at the heart of the Nyando plains in Kisumu County, Ochieng started playing competitive soccer in Form One at Otieno Oyoo Secondary School and later transferred to Ambira High School in Form two where he finished his secondary school education. The 22-year old became the best defender in the 2011 Copa Coca-Cola National Championships earning him a trip to represent Kenya in South Africa.

The lanky defender, however, admits that it was an uphill task for him since he joined Vihiga United but has risen to the task to become the assistant captain of the Vihiga-based side. “It has not been easy to fit into the team, I joined when we were almost gaining promotion to Kenya’s top flight league. Through hard work and persistence I was able to fit into the team and even got a call-up to the national team with only one season in the KPL,” said Ochieng.

Bernard Ochieng left) with other Harambee Stars players before their CAF Qualification match against Ghana at the Kasarani Stadium
Photo by Alvin Wesonga

The Kenyatta University Education student terms his National team experience as a motivation in his playing career and hopes to improve every season on the way. The former Kenyatta University captain draws his motivation from David ‘Calabar’ Owino locally and David Luiz who he says are his role models and football idols.

Under Ochieng’s leadership, Kenyatta University’s football team also dubbed as Hardnuts have been able to win three consecutive Kenya University Sports Association (KUSA) National titles and also featured in the biannual East Africa University Games twice.

The fourth-year student dream is to play in Europe and has also urged all the young talented players who are on the verge of giving up their soccer careers not to tire. “In life, time sorts everything and not everyone is the same, everyone has their own timeline, therefore, I urge that talented person who is out there to just be a little more patient and God will reward their hard work,” said Ochieng.

Ochieng joined Kenyatta University in 2014 and is yet to graduate with a Degree in Education after completion of his teaching practice in May next year.

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