OPINION: The changing dynamics of Gor Mahia

Gor Mahia sack Nuttal
Gor Mahia chair Ambrose Rachiel (right) and coach Nuttall. [Photo/Courtesy]

Not to say k’Ogalo’s game was any dead. No. Under Bobby Williamson Gor won the 2013 title with matches to spare. But it did not have the flare that Zdravko Logarušić had injected into the team a year earlier. Under Zdravko Logarušić, k’Ogalo was a sure Prime Time news item win or loss, match day or otherwise. The Green Army did rooftop celebrations on victories and mourned losses with a full tero buru fashion.

While Zdravko Logarušić hunted for his goals from the onset throwing all his assets forward in the hunt, Bobby Williamson believed in playing football building play from the goalkeeper to the defenders to the mid upfront. Zdravko deployed his two diminutive arsenals in Rama Salim and Dan Sserenkuma while the cool Bobby had utmost trust in Joseph Wanyonyi whom he played for ninety minutes fatigued and gasping for any remaining air or hurt and running merely on spiritual crutches. Bobby would always play his ‘only begotten son’ Joseph Wanyonyi.

2015 has seen Gor Mahia employ a totally different style of play, if my observation is anything to go by. The long-balls kind of play that Bobby Williamson abhorred is back. But a playing technique probably is not entirely decided by the coach and the so-called football philosophy he confesses in the game. It is much more than that. It goes to the kind of players available. With vertically challenged players like Rama Salim, Innocent Mutiso and Dan Sserenkuma, the game has to be played where it’s best playable – on the ground. Knit the passes till you get to the strikers.

Coach Nuttall has, in 2015, probably the tallest striking force Gor Mahia has had in the recent past. Michael Olunga, Timothy Otieno and Meddie Kagere are as tall as tall strikers can come for a club! Vertically incomparable!

Further, Michael Olunga has this special ability to win balls lobbed at any part of the pitch. The young engineering student has the requisite height, strength and pace to outrun opponents and win passes. As witnessed against AC Leopards of the Congo, this is probably the reason Frank Nuttall is using more of long balls.

Defenders are continually underestimating Michael Olunga’s strength. Look at the number of times he’s won penalties alone. Three penalties in seven matches is by any standards a great contribution. People say Ali Abondo is on fire scoring at will. What they don’t mention is that of Abondo’s eight goals so far, three have been from penalty kicks won by Olunga.

A couple of years ago, the suggestion k’Ogalo could win a match by scoring via a long ball over the middle of the opposition defense would have been heartily laughed away. Today it is working because the aerial presence available for Coach Nuttall. Goals and more goals are certain to come!


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