Muangthong United have confirmed the acquisition of midfielder Eric Johana ahead of the new Thai Premier League season.
The 27-year-old Kenya international was a free agent after leaving Belgian outfit Waasland-Beveren but on Friday, Muangthong unveiled the attacking midfielder on a one-year deal with an option to extend the same.
“Muangthong United, a leading club in Thai League, has unveiled Eric Johana, who features for the Kenya national team from SK Beverain in the Belgian league with a one-year contract and additional option to wear,” the club confirmed.
Muangthong Director of Football Ronnarit Suewaja revealed why they signed the player: “It's a good day for Muangthong to welcome Eric [Johana]. We believe he’s the weapon we've been looking for.
“Johana’s experience in Europe, as well as the Kenyan national team, has made him into a versatile and adaptable player, able to fill many roles on the pitch.”
Suewaja added: “We wish to build a team that can create exciting and beautiful football. He comes to us at 27 years old and we believe he will help the club to succeed.”
Coach Mario Yurovsky said: “This is one big piece of the puzzle for the next season, and next week we can see Eric [Johana] in action in the charity match with Bangkok United.
“Johana can help us with the transition and one-against-one he is fantastic and can score left or right just as well. Of course, Eric will need time to adapt to playing football in Thailand, so we cannot put too much pressure on him.”
On his part, the Harambee Star, who will wear jersey number 19, revealed why it was easy for him to take up the new challenge.
“When the interest came from Muangthong United, I took a look, and the history, the amazing supporters, and the good team [fourth last year] and the coach is fantastic,” Johana said, adding: “Everything about this felt right, and I feel good about this decision.
“It's been a great honour to play here. I've had the opportunity to follow Muangthong United for a while. It's a great team. There's a great coach and a great fan. It's an important challenge and it took me a short decision to come and play here.”
Johana added: “Muangthong finished fourth, and as a player, I am here to help the team to take the next step. We have three trophies to play for this season, and we can win.
“Part of my goal is to engage as much as possible with the team, improve my pace with friends, hopefully, bring the team to a better finish, or maybe win a trophy this new season.”
Johana started his career with Mathare United in the Kenyan Premier League and in 2017, he moved to Sweden where he signed for Vasalunds IF. At Vasalunds, he managed 22 appearances and scored five goals.
He attracted IF Brommapojkarna, who came for his services in 2018 and he ended up making 43 appearances and scored six goals. He was then signed by Jonkopings Sodra IF in 2020, where he scored 14 goals from 51 matches.
Johana has 36 caps for Kenya; his debut game was against Ethiopia on July 4, 2015, at Nyayo Stadium and his maiden goal was the winner against the Democratic Republic of Congo at Kasarani Stadium with a 2-1 final scoreline.
He becomes the second Kenyan player in history to sign for a Thai-based club, after winger Ayub Timbe, who currently features for champions Buriram United.