Raila urges Gor to focus on the ball as club unveils Ksh65m deal


Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga (left) and SportPesa CEO Ronald Karauri display a new club ...
Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga (left) and SportPesa CEO Ronald Karauri display a new club jersey for Gor Mahia FC during the unveiling of club's new kit and SportPesa sponsorship deal at a Nairobi hotel in Nairobi, Kenya on March 04, 2016. SportPesa betting company has sponsored Gor Mahia FC to a tune of Ksh65Million for the next 5 years. Photo/Stafford Ondego/www.sportpicha.com

Gor Mahia FC Patron and opposition chief, Raila Odinga has called on the club to hold its elections but the exercise should not interfere with the team’s programme on the pitch.

Speaking on Friday when he witnessed the launch of the team’s partnership with betting firm, SportPesa that is worth Ksh65m per annum for five years in Nairobi, Raila who took time off the heated campaigns for the Malindi parliamentary elections to attend the fete also advised on the ideal time to do the club polls.

“Finishing a season unbeaten doesn’t mean you will finish the other season unbeaten. Avoid quarrels in the club and support the management of the club as is and avoid office wrangles but wait for the season to end so as to hold elections,” the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) leader said.

“Other countries don’t beat Kenya in football talent, but the reason why we don’t shine is poor management. Players should be encouraged to move to where there are greener pastures lets them go and help our players grow in the game and clubs should not withhold transfer request for players,” the K’Ogalo patron underpinned.

His remarks were aimed at addressing the disquiet among Gor supporters who want the elections to be held soon accusing the Ambrose Rachier led executive of mismanaging the club and allowing key players to depart at the end of the season.

The three-peat champions lost top scorer, Michael Olunga and fearsome strike partner, Meddie Kagere to clubs in Sweden and Rwanda with the future of midfielder, Ugandan Khalid Aucho, another lynchpin of the side yet to be determined.

The team who have drawn their opening three fixtures, the latest a barren stalemate at 2015 runners-up Ulinzi Stars on Thursday, face the biggest test of the young season when they host archrivals, AFC Leopards on Sunday in the first Mashemeji Derby of 2016 now also dubbed the SportsPesa Derby after both teams signed sponsorship deals with the firm.

“In any game there is a loser and a winner, in the case of poor officiating,lets officials raise the same with the relevant bodies but don’t allow fans to throw stones and cause violence. I ask fans from all clubs to keep their cool thus attracting more fans to the stadiums,” Raila, an avid football fan urged ahead of Sunday’s potentially explosive battle that is the signature game in the country’s domestic football.

Gor Mahia FC chairman Ambrose Rachier, Former Prime minister Raila Odinga, Sportpesa CEO Ronald Karauri and FKF president Nick Mwendwa display a new t-shirt for the club during the unveiling of club's new kit and Sportpesa sponsorship deal at the Intercontinental hotel in Nairobi, Kenya on March 04, 2016. Sportpesa betting company has sponsored Gor Mahia FC to a tune of Ks 65Million for the next 5 years. Photo/Stafford Ondego/www.sportpicha.com
Gor Mahia FC chairman Ambrose Rachier, Former Prime minister Raila Odinga, Sportpesa CEO Ronald Karauri and FKF president Nick Mwendwa display a new t-shirt for the club during the unveiling of club’s new kit and Sportpesa sponsorship deal at the Intercontinental hotel in Nairobi, Kenya on March 04, 2016. Sportpesa betting company has sponsored Gor Mahia FC to a tune of Ks 65Million for the next 5 years. Photo/Stafford Ondego/www.sportpicha.com

His remarks prompted Rachier to comment on the elections having declined to answer to Citizen on Thursday when a section of fans called for the polls claiming his term in office had lapsed in January.

“According to our constitution, the elections are not due until August next year. And once you are elected, you take four years, 2017 August is when the term lawfully expires. That falls within the season.

“In his own thinking, which is quite right, it is very clear that instead of waiting for August next year, his advise as you can hear, do it offseason since August next year will be on-season,” the two-term K’Ogalo chief who is also the chairman of Kenyan Premier League (KPL) told reporters while backing Raila’s view on the subject.

-Commendable deal-

On the commercial agreement which runs for five years whose value still remains undisclosed, the CORD leader hailed the betting firm for coming to the aid of both the country’s best supported community clubs who had fallen to lean times after their deals with dairy firm SpinKnit and sugar manufacturers Mumias elapsed.

“Having corporates developing their own teams is not helpful to Kenyan football,” Raila said in a thinly-veiled swipe at company-backed teams that form majority of the 16-team KPL.

“Gor Mahia is a huge thing for Kenya, and as SportsPesa it shows commitment of recognizing Kenya brands and we hope at the end of the day, it shall be a win for both sides,” the betting firm’s CEO Captain Ronald Karauri said at the launch that came a day after they unveiled their agreement with Leopards.

Newly elected Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president, Nick Mwendwa, also hailed the entry of the betting firm urging the league champions to develop their own facility in the perimeter of the largest sporting complex in the land, “Gor Mahia to come up strong and I can confirm that Gor have space at Kasarani and I’m ready to support the project.”

“I’m hopeful at the end of this first agreement there will be contract renewal.”

“Hooliganism is something we have struggled with to contain. I thank our fans to behave even better for the next five years,” Rachier pointed out on the clubs supporters’ established-history with violence.

-Nutall scare-

Gor Mahia FC coach Frank Nuttal and player Victor Abondo share a light moment during the unveiling of club's new kit and SportPesa sponsorship deal at the Intercontinental hotel in Nairobi, Kenya on March 04, 2016. Sportpesa betting company has sponsored Gor Mahia FC to a tune of Ks 65Million for the next 5 years. Photo/Stafford/www.sportpicha.com
Gor Mahia FC coach Frank Nuttal and player Victor Abondo share a light moment during the unveiling of club’s new kit and SportPesa sponsorship deal at the Intercontinental hotel in Nairobi, Kenya on March 04, 2016. Sportpesa betting company has sponsored Gor Mahia FC to a tune of Ks 65Million for the next 5 years. Photo/Stafford/www.sportpicha.com

Earlier, club coach Scottish national Frank Nuttall, who has led them to the 2014 and 15 titles, caused some panic in the gathering when he began thanking everyone who has been aiding him at the club, starting with his assistant Frank Ouna, the fans and even his driver.

But those who thought he was announcing a bombshell decision to quit his post following recent pressure on his job were reassured quickly when he expressed his desire to lead the team to an unprecedented fourth successive domestic honours, starting on Sunday when he faces a team he is yet to beat since he took charge mid 2014.

“We have to try and continue the success of the club this season, hopeful with the help of the sponsorship will help the club regain its glory days. When we did not have sponsors during our difficult time, we thank all those who stood by us, the management, Bobby Ogola, my one time assistant and I wish him well in his new endeavours.

“Frank Ouna, I’m pleased to have him as my deputy, and congratulations to him on his recent appointment (as Harambee Stars third coach) and I thank my fitness coach Nduta, she has really helped us with fitness training,” the former fitness instructor at Glasgow giants, Rangers FC in his native Scotland said when he took to the podium.

Allan Thigo, Maurice Ouma and Austin Oduor were some of the revered club legends of old who came to witness the ushering in the new age with the club entering its biggest ever sponsorship deal that fans hope will set off a new era of domination like their playing days.

-Mercy Cherop also contributed to this report

 

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