Gor Mahia tie slum boys

Kogalo came from behind to tie Mathare United 1-1 in a midweek match played at Nyayo stadium on Tuesday. Gor Mahia dominated possesion but it was Mathare who took the lead via Andrew Tololwa. Gor Mahia went on the offensive with Lavatsa, Solomon Nasio and Dennis Okoth coming close.

Veteran Moses Odhiambo who has been out with an injury capped a glorious return by scoring the equalizer. Odhiambo had come on as a second half substitue along with Kevin Omondi. The introduction of Odhiambo brought a much needed spark into the Gor Mahia unit.  In the 68th minute, Odhiambo picked up a heading pass from Edwin Lavatsa and beat Martin Musalia in the Mathare goal with a well taken shot.

Mixed luck for ex Kogalo players/coaches

Former Gor Mahia coach, the popular Gideon Ochieng was recently fired from his position as Coach at newly promoted Congo United. Talk about an unceremonious sacking, Ochieng was sacked via SMS. Club financier, Fadhil Bayusuf, did not have the decency to face Ochieng in person. The message read “Coach you are among the very good coaches here in Kenya but by your bad luck you have been unable to shine. I therefore feel it’s better you stepped down so we can give the chance to another coach to continue with the team.”

A devastated Ochieng’ said: “I have just received a text message from the club president himself terminating my services and I think this is a crude way to do things since I have a one-year contract that runs up to the end of December 2011.

“It’s unfortunate that the club chief has treated me this way. I am the same person who registered the club with the Register of Societies when the Kenyan Premier League had refused to recognise them, only to be stabbed in the back after only seven games and, above all, through a text message. I’m yet to talk to him but I’ll consult and take the necessary steps.”

Ochieng, popularly known as “Agido”, played at left back for Kogalo in 1994. He was primarily a second team player in a team that featured a rock solid defence with Zedekiah Otieno “Zico”, Tobias Ocholla “Jua Kali” , Sammy Omollo, Paul Ochieng, Charles Ogutu among others. He became Kogalo coach sometime around 2007 when ho took over from Raphael Auka whose brief spell as Kogalo coach ended when he was forced out by irate fans for poor performance. Agido took over and Kogalo fortunes took a turn for the better. They went from finishing 9th in the league to 5th. He was briefly fired after the club elections of 2008 but fan pressure saw his return. However behind the scenes intrigues so the return of former  player and team-mate “Zico” Otieno as technical advisor. Confusion amongst the fans and division amongst the players saw the club forced to clarify the ‘pecking order’ which stated that Zico as technical advisor was the head of technical bench. A few months later, Agido was fired from Kogalo for the second time much to the chargrin of fans who saw him as one of the primary reasons for the change in fortunes of the club. Upon his departure, he thanked the club and fans for giving him an opportunity to establish his credentials. After a year hiatus, he was hired by Congo United from where he has now been unceremoniously fired.

A former coach and player who is currently enjoying a high level of success is Sammy Omollo “Pamzo”. He has led Tusker to the top of the league where they are runway leaders with 21 points. While at Gor Mahia as their head coach in 2008, that Omollo was chased out of office in a manner similar to Auka’s and Agido’s.

Gor had gone through a string of poor results under Omollo and the last straw that broke the back of the club lovers was a 1-0 loss to Red Berets at City Stadium on April 21, 2008.

“You are fired,” barked a Gor official to the surprised Omollo soon after the match had ended, as club fans cheered wildly. It later emerged that the rash decision had been prompted by pressure from the demanding Gor fans and that some club officials were not for it.  Too late, Omollo, a former international defender, said a coach could not be judged on one result, dusted himself and left the club he had once served so diligently as a player and later coach. Last year Omollo coached Mahakama who were relegated under his watch. Many Tusker fans therefore wondered what was the rationale of hiring Pamzo. He has surely proved them wrong.

Sammy Omollo joined Gor Mahia in 1991 after playing for the Kenya U-21 side where he featured alongside another Kogalo signee Allan Odhiambo. He left for Tusker briefly before returning to Kogalo in 1993. That same year he earned a tryout with English second tier side Bournemouth. He says the deal fell through due to intereference from club officials. Omollo was spotted by some  officials of Indian side East Bengal in 1996 when Kenya beat Algeria 3-1 in a World Cup match. They made him an offer. He was reluctant to accept their offer because he thought cricket and hockey were the only games India was well known for. An erstwhile player in a Nairobi cricket club, he decided to take a three-month contract with the Indian club.

The year started poorly for legendary Gor Mahia stopper Bobby Ogolla. He has been hired by SoNy Sugar as head coach. At SoNy, he was to team up with former club mate Peter Otieno “Bassanga”. Backroom shenanigans saw him sidelined in favor of MIke Baraza who interestingly has been fired this week.

Ogolla is considered by many as the best defensive stopper Kenya has ever produced. More about him is covered in a previous article. Before SoNy , Ogolla had a stint as assistant coach at Sofapaka and a very brief stint as national team coach.

Kogalo triumph in Milk Battle

In the battle of the milkmen, pitting Tuzo sponsored Gor Mahia against Brookside sponsored Thika United, it was Gor Mahia who emerged triumphant winning 3-1. Cheered on by a huge band of travelling fans , Kogalo took the game to Thika early with the forward line combination of Edwin Lavatsa and Ezekiel Odera proving to be a thorn in the side of the Thika defence.

Kogalo took the lead via Lavatsa who converted a pass from Odera. Thika were back in it through a goal from Kenneth Wendo. The second half was balanced with Thika making several runs at the Gor Mahia defence. But Jerim Onyango the Gor Mahia custodian made several brilliant saves. It was Gor Mahia who found the back of the net twice via a Kevin Omondi brace. The match saw the first time that Peter Opiyo now playing for Thika featured against his former club. Opiyo certainly is still a pass-master and he proved as much on Sunday.

Finally Gor Mahia gets landmark sponsorship

After over four decades of existing as one of the most popular teams in East Africa, Gor Mahia have landed one heck of a sponsorship. The deal is worth Ksh 38 million over two years. It is the biggest sponsorship deal in the country.

There had been weeks of speculation and rumours  ever since rumors started to circulate that a deal was in the offing. By the end of last week, most fans had dismissed it as yet another hoax. Further to that, Gor Mahia was the only top community team left without a sponsor. AFC Leopards, Mathare, Sofapaka and Thika United all had inked sponsorship deals. Even community rugby clubs like Mwamba and Harlequins had inked lucrative sponsorship deals. This left many wondering why Kogalo, the most popular team in Kenya could not land any sponsorship.

The last time Kogalo had any semblance of a sponsorship deal was 1991 when Kogalo sported shirts emblazoned with “International Casino”. It was a deal brokered by then chairman Joseph Ogode who was the MD and International Casino. However nobody knows what the deal was worth and the club was always flat broke and often failed to pay allowances.

Felix Otieno circa 1991

Sponsors have for years shied away from supporting community clubs, due the shambolic nature of Kenyan football. It is thus refreshing to see sponsors come forward. The football community must throw its support behind any company that supports football. Tusker have basically abandoned Kenya sports,  whereas they are pouring millions into Tanzanian football. So rather than go to the bar and spend money on EABL products, football fans should spend the money buying Tuzo Lala for their loved ones. Gor Mahia supporters in particular must throw their support behind Tuzo. as you know, whether or not Tuzo renews the sponsorship after two years depends on whether their sales rise. So for Pete’s sake, support Kenya football by buying Tuzo.

The club officials must play their part by accounting properly for this money. The club does not belong to any individual. And if the money is not well accounted for, sponsors could pull out in order to avoid the bad publicity that comes with being associated corruption. On the other hand, judicious use of the sponsorship money could see the club return to the heights it scaled in the 1980s.

Fans must also play their part. Aside from buying Tuzo products, fans must behave well during matches in order to avoid giving the brand a bad name.

Kogalo and Ingwe Juniors share spoils

In a first round match of the inaugural KPL under 19 tournament, Gor Mahia juniors were held 1-1 by AFC Leopards Juniors. Senior team regular, Duncan Owiti had put Kogalo ahead in the 57th minute. However Emmanuel Tostao levelled the score for AFC leopards. It was a thrilling match played at a high tempo.

The KPL under 19 tournament is a new initiative by the KPL that is designed to encourage teams to invest in youth development rather than rely on ready made players. It cannot be gainsaid that players who receive proper tutelage at a young age end up becoming high quality players as seniors. As such we hope that Kogalo management will take youth development seriously. The emphasis should not be on winning games. the emphasis should be on instilling young players with proper technique, teaching them how to read games, enforcing fundamentals such as the ability to use both feet, the ability to head accurately, pass accurately,  the art of taking freekicks etc.In watching KPL matches, it is noticeable that KPL players have very poor technique. No wonder scoring is a problem.

Ideally there should be a scholarship system similar to the one at Thika United where players are housed together, go to class together and play together every day. They thus gain a familiarity with each other from a young age and build cohesion which bodes well for when they join the senior team.

And most importantly, age cheating should be discouraged. There is no point winning youth tournaments with old players who when they grow up, do not translate to good senior players because they have become used to playing against much younger players. Does anyone remember Philip Osondu ? He was the Nigerian who shone brilliantly when Naija won the World U-17 cup in 1985 where he was top scorer and best player. He was a hot commodity with European teams lining up for his signature. He signed for Anderlecht in Belgium. Even though he was 25 at the time he was able to pass as a 16 year old because of his small frame. Anderlecht officials put him on a high calorie diet in the hopes that he would grow taller and stronger. However at 25 he could no longer grow taller but only grow sideways. Eventually Anderlecht realized he was not 16. Nigeria may have won the U17 world cup but it never benefited the senior team because none of the players they fielded at the time Materialized into good senior players. Had they given opportunities to real 16 year olds, some of them would have become good senior players. I say all this because some KPL teams may already be falling into the trap of age cheating. It is questionable whether some of the players being fielded here are U-19.

Kogalo in shock loss to City Stars

Collins Okoth in action against City Stars

Bottom club, Nairobi City Stars were the latest club to send shockwaves across the KPL when they surprised Kogalo 1-0 in a well attended match at the City Stadium on Saturday. Former Gor Mahia player, Jimmy Bageya scored the all important goal on 52 minutes to give the Kawangware side its first win of the season.

Kogalo fielded the same lineup that had beaten Mathare in the KPL Top 8 tourney last Wednesday.

New signing, Edwin Lavatsa almost gave Gor the lead after four minutes but his header missed the target by inches.

City Stars  gained in confidence and George Odari’s fierce freekick hit the post on 20 minutes. On 52 minutes Bageya silenced the crowd with a clam finish.

Coach Zedekiah Otieno brought on Tony Onyango, Wycliffe Opondo and Ezekiel Odera to no avail.

Kogalo went on the attack but were stifled by the strong City Stars defence that belied their position at the bottom of the table.

Coach Zico blamed fatigue, saying that his team played 3 games in two weeks. But the question is, why did’nt he rest key players for the meaningless game against Mathare on Wednesday ?

KPL Top 8: Kogalo sink Mathare

In  a well attended midweek match, Gor Mahia comprehensively outplayed the slum boys aka Mathare United to beat them 2-0 and sail into the semis of the newly inaugurated KPL top 8.

A power blackout delayed the match for more than half an hour as fans waited calmly for the power to be restored. After a quiet first half Kogalo went on the attack. 20 minutes into the half, Tony Onyango latched onto a loose ball to score the first goal.

The second goal came via a counter attack. The speedy Edwin Lavatsa made one of menacing runs and was fouled by a Mathare defender. Collins Okoth stepped up to take the resulting penalty and converted for a 2-0 score.

The winner of the all-expenses paid tournament by the KPL will ultimately win a cash prize of Sh1 million. Teams participating are those that finished in the top eight positions in last year’s Premiership.

Gor Mahia pip Bankers

In a match played at the City stadium on Sunday, Kogalo were made to fight yet again before they managed to beat KCB with yet another 1-0 win. The all important goal was scored by veteran Solomon Nasio on 43 minutes. Tony Onyango provided the all important pass to Nasio after a flowing move.

New signing Edwin Lavatsa gave the bankers a torrid time with his whiplash speed and incisive runs. Wycliffe Opondo almost put Kogalo 2 goals ahead on 67 minutes but his effort was foiled by the KCB custodian.

KOgalo are now in 3rd position with 10 points. However goals seem hard to come by and the finishing seems blunt. Coach Zico must put extra work on the teams finishing.

On another note, the action by a fan to bring an ODM banner was despicable. Kogalo is an apolitical team and has fans from every ethnic group and every political party. It is not affiliated with any political party. Such are the kind of actions that hinder the club from gaining sponsorship. Fans should police such actions by ejecting fans who try to make overt political statements.

On a positive note, attendance for this match was amazing. City stadium was filled to the rafters. Even the standing room section behind the goals was filled. Why cant the city of Nairobi build a few new terraces ? Its really not that expensive.