2020 review: Gor Mahia had more misses than hits


2020 review: Gor Mahia had more misses than hits
Gor Mahia players are all busy jogging at Nyayo.PHOTO/Sportpicha/Citizen Digital

In Summary

  • Gor Mahia are undoubtedly the most successful football club in Kenya. With 19 league titles in their trophy cabinet and a ticket to continental football every year, one would expect better structures and up to par organisation within the club.
  • However that is far from it. Year in year out disorder is the norm as coaches come and go.
  • That is not all, player exodus is the in-thing. Every term the club has to rebuild thanks to the pedestrian manner it is run.
  • In fact, 2020 is no exception as the team not only lost key talents but was also mired in leadership wrangles.
Chief writerGor Mahia

Gor Mahia are undoubtedly the most successful football club in Kenya. With 19 league titles in their trophy cabinet and a ticket to continental football every year, one would expect better structures and up to par organisation within the club.

However that is far from it. Year in year out disorder is the norm as coaches come and go.

That is not all, player exodus is the in-thing. Every term the club has to rebuild thanks to the pedestrian manner it is run.

In fact, 2020 is no exception as the team not only lost key talents but was also mired in leadership wrangles.

The only positive news was winning the league title for a 19th time, when Football Kenya Federation suspended the league pre-maturely in March and declared them champions.

By this time, thanks to Covid-19 pandemic, it was evident that the competition would not resume. By the time the federation halted the league,  Gor were at the summit of the standings on 54 points.

At the time, many of the club’s adherents celebrated, but it marked the beginning of a ‘dark chapter’ in the club’s  2020 calendar.

Naturally, a confirmation of a league title should be met with optimism and of course proper planning ahead of a new campaign. However, at Gor, the reverse is true.

Key players like Joash ‘Berlin Wall’ Onyango was quick to jump ship in the wake of the title conquest even as the club faced it’s bleak times.

Onyango’s exit to join Tanzanian giants Simba, mirrored a similar path taken by Francis Kahata and Meddie Kagere, who all swapped the green jersey for Simba’s red shirt.

But that is not all, next on the exit line were striker Boniface Omondi and custodian Fredrick Odhiambo who joined moneybags Wazito.

The exodus continued with Kenyan international Lawrence Juma joining Sofapaka while goalkeeper and Tanzanian international David Mapigano also returned to his homeland after a mutual agreement, leaving KÓgalo facing a massive rebuilding exercise.

Finances, has been argued, has been the team’s Achilles Heel, but the club leadership has done nothing to mitigate this, leaving players with no choice but to jump ship, at the slightest sight of trouble.

In total, in year 2020, 14 players left the club as Finnish tactician Steven Pollack  also ended his association with the outfit after a tussle over his accrued dues.

KÓgalo went ahead to acquire the services of Brazilian and former Rayon Sports coach Roberto Oliveira to take charge of the team.

But not before long, the Brazilian was barred by the African football governing body CAF from leading Gor in the continental fixtures, as his coaching badges did not meet the requirements.

This forced KÓgalo to hire a stand-in coach in Sammy ‘Pamzo’ Omollo, of Posta Rangers, to take charge of the continental fixtures.

The former Gor Mahia player Omollo guided the team past the preliminary stage of the CAF Champions League tossing out Rwandan side APR 4-3 on aggregate; losing 2-1 away in Kigali and winning the reverse fixture 3-1 in Nairobi.

However, the team met its waterloo in Algeria, where they were walloped 6-0 by Beloiuzdad to leave their progression to the group stage hanging by the thread, ahead of the return leg in Nairobi.

In the boardroom, wrangles once again reared its ugly head as club chairman Ambrose Rachier and SG Sam Ocholla locked horns over the endorsement of FKF-StarTimes league broadcast deal.

While Rachier vehemently opposed the deal, Ocholla, without the blessing of the executive, signed the deal opening a can of worms at the club.

This saw Rachier take the battle to FKF boss Nick Mwendwa whom he accused of ‘threats’, and the federation retaliated by blocking Gor from playing a friendly match in Sudan with  Al Hilal.

In summary, 2020 presented more challenges than good to KÓgalo. It was a year of disappointments than glory, and rightfully so, it continues to dog the club even as they limp to year 2021.

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Story By Milton Ochieng
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