Ayub Timbe: Vermaelen beats Kenya star for Vissel Kobe’s monthly award

The winger was nominated for the award for the second time in Japan, but it was the former Gunner who eventually emerged victorious

Ex-Barcelona defender Thomas Vermaelen defeated Kenyan international Ayub Timbe and was named May’s Player of the Month by Vissel Kobe.

The J1 League team confirmed the former Arsenal star as the winner on Thursday after tying a 1-1 draw with Cerezo Osaka in the 96th minute in May. Timbe, who has gained a foothold in the Japanese league and has become a regular at Vissel Kobe, supported Vermaelen in scoring the decisive goal.

Former Beijing Renhe striker also scored a brace in a cup match against Tokushima Vortis in May but could not be chosen as the monthly award winner. Other candidates for the award were Hotari Yamaguchi and Douglas from Brazil. The Brazilian found the net’s goal in a league game against Sagan Tosu that ended in a 1-1 draw.

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In April Timbe was nominated for the award, for which he also unsuccessfully applied.

The winger joined the J1 League after failing to break into Reading’s first team in the championship last year. He then returned to Beijing Renhe, but then left and paved the way for his move to Japan.

After Michael Olunga, who made a name for himself at Kashiwa Reysol, Timbe is Kenya’s second high-profile star to play in the Far East. Olunga won the Golden Boot in the 2020 J1 League season after scoring 28 goals in 32 games and became the first African to win the Most Valuable Player Award in Japan.

The former Thika United and Tusker striker has since left Qatar for Al-Duhail and his performances in the Far East are expected to put significant pressure on Timbe.

Timbe, who has played for several clubs on every continent, has high expectations for Vissel Kobe, especially after the performance of his international team-mate Olunga.

At Beijing Renhe, a club he joined in February 2017, he scored eight goals with them in their first season and helped the club advance to the Chinese Super League.

Many supporters of the Harambee Stars national team will wait to see if coach Jacob “Ghost” Mulee will appoint him to qualify for the World Cup later this year.

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