The year 2010 will be remembered as an extremely succesful year for Gor Mahia Wuod Ogalo. For despite not winning any silverware, Gor Mahia had a lot of success on and off the field.
Second place finish
Despite a slow start to the league that included shock 0-3 losses to teams like Chemelil Sugar, Kogalo finished the league strong with convincing wins over perennial giants Tusker and eventual winners, Ulinzi, that saw them come very close to winning the league and eventually finish second.
In all probability , Gor Mahia were the youngest team in the league. For such a young team to come close to winning the league was quite an achievement. Think back to 1997 when Kogalo finished second to Utalii. Yet that team was star studded and experienced with players like “Zico” Otieno, Sammy Omollo “Pamzo”, Paul Ochieng, Dan Ogada, Frazier Ochieng, Steve Okumu and Steve Odiaga. Yet not only was the 2010 youthful and inexperienced, they finished second in a league that is now more competitive than it was in 1997. Despite their lack of experience, the group of Awilo, Wekesa, Masika, Kiplagat, Makori, Blackberry, Kevin Omondi , Musa and others, went toe to toe with far more experienced teams like Sofapaka, Tusker and Ulinzi
The return of the fans
The superb play in the second half of the league helped accelerate the return of fans to the stadia. Many of these fans had sworn off Gor Mahia matches and had not attended a match in a decade or so. The 2-0 win over Tusker especially sent shock waves throughout the section of Kogalo fans that had become moribund. Attendance of second leg matches increased substantially from the first leg.
This resurgence in interest is one of the reasons 2010 will be remembered as a succesful year for Kogalo. It was only as recently as 2 years ago that the Kenyan newspapers had declared the death of community teams like Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards. Starting in the early 90s , attendance at Gor Mahia matches had started to plummet significantly. None other than legendary club chairman and patron Job Omino once said that community teams would one day go extinct. By 2006, a match pitting Gor Mahia and archrivals AFC was played to about 3000 fans at Nyayo stadium.
In 2006, Ken Oliech and co played to a half empty city stadium while playing in the biggest derby in the nation.
The fan resurgence which started in 2008 went into full swing in 2010. Kogalo are by far the best supported team in Kenya. Home matches at City stadium are jam packed at both the main stand and at Russia. It a scene that is almost reminiscent of what used to happen in the 70s when city stadium was filled to the brim every saturday.
Russia is now full to the brim
National team experience
in 2010 No less than six Gor Mahia players featured for the national team in 2010: Jerim Onyango, Chris Wekesa, Julius Owino, Abdi Malik Mohammed, Kevin Omondi and George Odhiambo. In addition, 4 Gor Mahia players featured for the national U-20 team: Anthony Akumu, Abdi Malik Mohammed, Musa Mohammed and Duncan Owiti.
George Odhiambo was voted as the national player of the year and along with Anthony Akumu was able to garner the interest of a Danish top tier team. As we write, Akumu is on trials and Blackberry is working on the modalities of the contract. That only Kogalo players have attracted the interest of European teams should make the team more attractive to the top Kenyan youngstars who are eager to someday play in Europe.
Many Tanzanians remember the good old days of the 1980s when Gor Mahia often tormented the top Tanzanian teams, Simba and Yanga in CECAFA cup matches and Africa cup matches. For example, in 1980, Kogalo beat Simba to lift the CECAFA cup while in 1984, Kogalo eliminated Yanga in the 1st round of the Africa champions cup. Fast forward to 2010 and Kogalo toured Tanzania where they comprehensively outplayed Tanzanian champions Simba and beat them 3-1. And this was a Kogalo team without several key players demolishing the team that had won the Tanzanian league unbeaten.
Kogalo gave Simba a reminder of the good old days