Gor Mahia launches anti-hooliganism campaign

In a bid to stem the tide of hooliganism which has caused the abandonment of two matches this year and has given the club bad publicity, Gor Mahia club officials in conjunction with sponsors, Tuzo, have started a campaign to combat hooliganism.

The club has also appealed to the Police to assist by arresting known hooligans. According to Chairman Ambrose Rachier, the club has identified 25 hooligans who caused abandonment of the opening day match against Rangers.

Says Rachier, “As a club, we are limited in the ways with which we can deal with unruly fans. Other than identifying them and banning them from our matches, there is little else we can do. We urge the law enforcement officers to help us by charging them in a court of law.”  Usually, it’s the club and ultimately the players that suffer when we get banned or fined over crowd trouble and we feel that if the transgressors are held to account individually, it will deter them because they will undertake the costs,” he added. “We are determined not to let a few criminals tarnish our name and deter us from accomplishing our goal which is to champion  the 2011 KPL. A true K’ogalo fan would never do anything to jeopardize his team and we will weed out these hooligans who pose as our fans,” added the enthusiastic chair.

The club wants to educate fans on the damage that hooliganism does to the club. G48 , a security company, will train marshals on how to circumvent fan trouble before it starts. Other stakeholders such as KPL and Suipersport will also be consulted on the way forward. The chairman emphasized the need to sensitize the fans from the 123 branches across the country on the need to shun violence and accept match results as they unfold. Rachier emphasized the club’s stance against hooliganism,

Tuzo brand manager Rosemary Aloo said, “We would like to offer our continued support to Gor Mahia and stand with them on this endeavour. We believe there are many ways of venting out frustrations during matches but neither violence nor anti social behaviour is one of them. We understand this will be a process and it will take time but we have to start from somewhere to not only curb this vice but eradicate it all together.”

Rachier also affirmed their commitment in continuing in corporate social responsibility activities (CSR) as a way of giving back to the society, an activity they embarked on last year when they visited Loitoktok district hospital and engaged in other environmental cleaning activities.

In an unprecedented move, The club will also train cheer-leaders in how to get fans to rally behind the team.

A nightmare weekend for Kenya Football

This past weekend is one that Kenya football fans including Gor Mahia fans will want to forget. Just when Kenyans thought their football could not sin any further, Kenya was handed two humiliating defeats. The first one came in the LG cup against Sudan. The stadium was filled almost to capacity by an expectant crowd. Whereas Sudan fielded an experimental side, Kenya fielded its top players. Add to that the fact that they were playing at home, and Kenyans expected nothing but a win.This after all is Sudan we are talking about. But the crowd soon turned sour when they realized that Harambee stars, coached by Gor Mahia tactician Zedekiah Otieno Zico was woefully out of their depth.

But the match that Kenyans will want to forget soon was the U23 match against rivals Uganda who beat them 5-1. Several Gor Mahia players featured including Musa Mohammed, Kevin Omondi and Edwin Lavatsa. It was a baptism of fire for Lavatsa who had never played an international match before. What a way to start your international career. Musa Mohammed who played in central defence had a nightmare of a game.

Kenya paid the price for poor preparations. Whereas Kenya assembled the team 4 days before the match, this Uganda team has been training together for years through various age grade competitions. Whereas Uganda takes player development seriosuly, Kenya does not have anything close to youth development. In Uganda, the best young players are assembled at St Peters Kitende school where thet are coached by the Uganda U17 coaches.

In Kenya the best players such as Kevin Omondi who was a star at Langata secondary school are often wasting time playing in schools without qualified coaches. They thus waste their teen years which are the years in which they should be learning the fundamentals of football. In short, Kenya paid ther appropriate price for lack of organization.

Gor Mahia hold Young Africans

Gor Mahia, held Tanzanian champions, Young Africans of Tanzania 1-1 in a friendly match played at the Sheikh Amri Abeid stadium in Arusha, Tanzania. The trip was fully paid for by Yanga who were using the match to prepare for the CECAFA cup that is being held in Tanzania starting this weekend.

Gor Mahia were playing without coach Zedekiah Otieno “Zico” who is away with the national team. they were also without key players Eric Masika, Jerim Onyango, Teddy Akumu, Edwin Lavatsa, Musa Mohammed, Kevin Omondi and Collins Okoth who are also away with the senior and under 23 national teams.

The match availed an opportunity for new signings like Hadji Mwachoki, Demonde Selenga and Wycliff Ochomo to gel with the team. The first half was evenly contested and ended up goalless. Yanga were the first to break the deadlock via Ghanaian signing Kenneth Asamoah. Dan Makori scored the equalizing goal for Gor Mahia.

Last year Gor Mahia without several key players beat Simba 3-1 in another friendly, that was played at the national stadium in Dar es Salaam. Gor Mahia fans will be happy to see the team return to the golden days when the name “Gor Mahia” was a household name all over Tanzania.

Historically, matches between Gor Mahia and the Tanzanian giants have been tight affairs. Circa 1984, Gor Mahia played Yanga in the first round of the African champions cup. In the lineup playing midfield linkman for Gor Mahia was new signing Abbas Khamis Magongo who haunted his fellow Tanzanians with his sleek touches. John Okello “Zangi” scored for Gor Mahia as they held Yanga 1-1 in the first leg. In the return leg in Nairobi, a late goal by Sammy Onyango “Jogoo” saw Gor Mahia through to the second round. The following year, Gor Mahia tied 1-1 with Simba on their way to winning the CECAFA cup. It is the last time Gor Mahia won that cup. Gor Mahia last played in the CECAFA cup in 1996 and fans today are eager to see the club return to those glory days.

Gor Mahia edge Chemelil

Kogalo resumed their 2011 KPL campaign with a hard fought 1-0 victory over Chemelil at Afraha stadium. Chemelil has proven a tough nut to crack for Gor Mahia in recent years. In fact the equivalent fixture last year ended in a 0-3 loss for Gor Mahia.

On a day when virtually every other KPL match ended in a scoreless tie, Kogalo triumphed thanks to a goal by defender Collins Omondi. He rose to head home a corner kick taken by Moses Odhiambo.

Collins Omondi pictured here, scored the winner

The game was an evenly balanced affair and either team could have won had they taken their chances. Eric Masika stood tall in the Kogalo defence to stave off attacks from Chemelil. He had an excellent game. Why he is not a national team regular in a team whose defence is porous and is in desperate need for help is beyond this writer.

The game availed fans the opportunity to see the new signings such as Hajji Mwachoki, Demonde Selenga and Wycliff Ochomo, the latter two who came on as subsitutes. There were no fireworks from them however and it will take time before the new group gels into a unit.

It was welcome news for Kogalo fans who have suffered through sub par results of late in addition to the Supersport ban and the heavy fines levelled against the team. Gor Mahia are now in 5th place with 23 points.

Gor Mahia to restart KPL matches on Sunday

Kogalo are due to resume KPL matches after a long break. After an uninspiring first leg so far, Kogalo fans will be hoping for a much better campaign. In the past two years, Gor Mahia have started the league poorly but finished strongly. After a second place finish last season, Kogalo fans will be hoping for nothing less than a win at this years league. Whether they can dig themselves out of sixth position remains to be seen.

For the beginning of the second leg, Gor Mahia have sought to strengthen their lineup by chasing various established players. Hajji Mwachoki who was released by Thika United has been signed and is apparently already training with the club. Burly striker Wycliff Ochomo has apparently also joined the club.

Among the departures is fan favorite Ibrahim Kitawi. The brilliant Kitawi has been at Kogalo since 2007 and has produced some spectacular perfomances and scored some sensational goals. His perfomance in 2009 even saw him earn a national team call up. However under coach Zico, Kitawi has inexplicably fallen out of favor. We wish him well as he joins Tusker. We hope he will not come back to haunt Kogalo like Dino Kitavi did in 1982. Kitavi had joined the club a few years earlier but found himself way behind the midfield pecking order which already had players like Sammy Owino “Kempes”, Tim Ayieko, Gideon Hamisi, and Jerry Imbo among others. When Kitavi joined Tusker (Then known as Kenya Breweries) , he scored twice to lead them to a 2-1 win over Kogalo in the 1982 league. Kitavi has recently coached various KPL teams including Tusker and AFC. There is no word on Bob Mugalia who had expressed interest in joining the club

Gor Mahia will start their next match at 3pm Sunday at Afraha stadium against Chemelil.

TV Blackout for Kogalo matches

Supersport, the South Africa TV station that transmits Kenya Premier league matches live has decided not to air Gor Mahia matches. This is according to KPL CEO Jack Oguda. The decision was probably reached due to the fact that three Gor Mahia matches have been abandoned due to crowd trouble over the past 6 months.

According to Oguda , Gor Mahia officials are free to appeal. It is likely however that the ban will last at least until the end of the year. Whether the ban also means Gor Mahia do not get a share of the revenue is unclear.

This is the first of sanctions that Gor Mahia are expected to face following the abandonment of the KPL Top 8 match against Ulinzi.

Gor Mahia forfeit Ulinzi Match

Ulinzi has been awarded the KPL top 8 match against Gor Mahia who are being penalized by due to crowd trouble caused by Gor Mahia fans. Trouble started when Gor Mahia scored what appeared to be a legitimate goal from a freekick. However the goal was dissallowed much to the chagrin of Kogalo fans who were already unhappy with the performance of KPL referees.

In addition, Gor Mahia will likely be asked to pay for damages to the Ulinzi bus which Ulinzi claim (emphasis on claim) to be Ksh 1.8 million. Kogalo may also pay for some of the damages caused to Nyayo stadium not to mention whatever fine IDAC chooses to impose. All this emphasizes why fans really need to behave themselves. There is also the fact that this kind of misbehaviour has recently lead to fatalities and injuries. Gor Mahia fans please please please behave yourselves and police each other. It was good to see the PM Raila Odinga speak out against hooliganism. We hope he goes to Russia and addresses fans on this subject.

However Kogalo officials must also come out strongly against incompetent refereeing which is having a negative impact on the league. KPL itself must start assessing referees better and give more games to competent referees.

Bob Mugalia interested in joining Kogalo

According to a story in Today’s Standard Newspaper, Congolese born Kenya striker, Bob Mugalia has expressed interest in joining Gor Mahia. Mugalia has been seen at the stadium attending Kogalo matches wearing a Kogalo jersey. When asked, he said he was just wearing the jersey because he was an ardent supporter of the team since his childhood days. This writer finds that interesting considering that during Mugalia’s childhood, Kogalo has been a hard sell even to its longtime fans.

Mugalia attending a Gor Mahia match

Bob Mugalia who arrived from Congo as a refugee has been most impressive in steering Sofapaka to the upper echelons of local football. So impressive has Mugalia been that local administrators were prevailed upon to hasten his transition to Kenyan citizenry. His lively runs precise crosses and superb goals have been amongst the highlights of the Kenya premier league.

Asked if he would be interested in the move, he replied: “Who would not be? In fact the move has always been on my mind. Gor is one of the best clubs in the country and has always been my dream team since childhood. I love their passionate fans and the way they play.

“Our football career is very short and one has to enjoy every bit of the limited career before it elapses.

“I also want to more trophies and I think I can do that with Gor Mahia. My contract at Sofapaka should not be an issue.”

He has also previously been linked with moves to Tanzania’s huge spending league side Azam United and APR of Rwanda but nothing materialised and it would be interesting to see how this one goes.

In any case Kogalo officials will have to move fast lest Mugalia moves to a rival team and comes back to haunt Kogalo or to the Tanzanian league.

Should he join Kogalo, he would be the second Congolese import to join Kogalo after Francis Kasinde did in 1991. Kasinde started really well but somehow faded. In January of 1991, Gor Mahia played against Ikast FC, which at the time was in the Danish top tier. Kasinde tormented the Danes, scoring and leading Gor Mahia to  2-0 win. Gor Mahia fans were ecstatic. He later inexplicably lost form and dissapeared.

Mugalia on the other hand has been consistent for the past 3 seasons. He would be a good addition to the Kogalo forwardline which of late has been blunt.

The Collins Okoth saga in a historical perspective

Kogalo fans heaved a sigh of relief when Collins Okoth “Gattuso” made a return from suspension during the midweek match against Sofapaka. Despite the two week layoff, Okoth played very well holding his own against the more illustrious Sofapaka midfield with Titus Mulama and others. He has been suspended for indiscipline.

He did not attend the training sessions on time and did nothing in regardsto correcting his behavior.

According to Coach Zedekiah Otieno he was surprised of the Okoths behavior.

Discipline is paramount for any player to be successful and we have spoken with the player several times but he refuses to listen to our advice so I had to ask him to stay home until we decide his fate” the coach was further quoted saying.

Collins Okoth vs Nairobi City stars

In past years, there were several cases of indiscipline some of which would make Gattuso’s foibles look like childs play. Flash back to April of 1982. Gor Mahia were pitted against Dynamo De Fimia of Madagascar in the first round of the Africa Champions cup. In the first leg played at the City stadium, Gor Mahia inexplicably lost 2-3. Gideon Hamisi and Andrew Obunga scored for Kogalo. All was not lost however because in those days, Kogalo’s continental away record was excellent and many fans expected them to turn the table.

Trouble started when Gor Mahia were to go into residential camp to prepare for the second leg. Club officials made the decision to house the players at Lenana high school. Kogalo players were expecting alternate accommodations. Upon arrival at Lenana, players refused to alight from the bus. A day later, players turned up for training at their regular training ground. Officials arrived at the ground, issued threats and asked the players who were willing to relocate to Lenana to step to one side. None did. The trip to Madagascar was thus cancelled as Kogalo could not raise a team. On April 17, Mike Ogolla, Andrew Obunga, Charles Ondiek and George Ayuka were singled out as ring leaders and suspended for 3 years. Nahashon Oluoch were suspended for 1 year. Co captains, George Otieno “Solo” and Sammy Owino were reprimanded and relieved of their captaincy duties. 13 other players were issued warning letters.  Fans congregated at Gill house which in those days was the pseudo-headquarters of Gor Mahia. The fans cheered Chairman Zack Mbori for the action. The players considered responsible were heckled by fans at various Nairobi pubs.  CAF imposed  a hefty fine on Gor Mahia.

Flash forward to 1983 and this time Kogalo were in the Cup winners cup, first round match against Vital O of Bururundi. Gor Mahia had won the first leg played away in Bujumbura winning 2-1 with goals from Abdallah Shebe and a scorching freekick from Bobby Ogolla.  Gor Mahia were expected to easily win the return leg in Nairobi. Instead they inexplicably went down 0-3. Fans had never seen Kgolao play such a lackadaisical game. Irate fans demanded the resignation of Chairman Zack Mbori. Fans were pictured by Nation newspapers carrying former chairman Peter Opar shoulder high and demanding his return. Cartoons subversive against Zack Mbori appeared in local dailies. Opar later explained that he had no intention of returning and that he had been abducted by a section of fans.

When the dust settled, club officials claimed that four players who had been suspended in 1982 had infiltrated the camp and instigated a rebellion. As a result, Mike Ogolla “Machine” , Andrew Obunga, Charles Ondiek and George Ayuka were expelled from the club. Nahashon Oluoch “Lule” and George Yoga were given a reprive. However Lule had already gone to the USA on a football scholarship. George Yoga had disappeared from the football scene never to be heard from again. Former Chairman David Opar was also implicated, a charge which he vehemently denied.  The expelled players accused Mbori of being divisive, flouting club rules and of demanding personal loyalty from players.

“Bad Boy” Andrew Obunga receiving the trophy from Minister Jeremiah Nyaga

Flash forward to 1986. Gor Mahia faced arch rivals AFC Leopards at the City stadium. At half-time, Gor Mahia led 2-0 thanks to a double by Sammy Onyango. Fans were dancing and singing. In the second half however, Gor Mahia inexplicabley conceded 3 goals and lost. After the match, it emerged that some Kogalo players had been bribed by AFC Leopards chairman, Alfred Sambu. Tirus Omondi and John Okello “Zangi” were given lengthy suspensions. Bobby Ogolla and Abbas Magongo were given shorter suspensions.

John Okello “Zangi” was to be expelled from the club in 1988 by then chairman Douglas Odolla. Zangi was an outspoken player who often spoke his mind. In this case he was said to be complaining that certain players were getting higher allowances which were unwarranted. Zangi later joined arch rivals AFC Leopards and at one point had to run for dear life when confronted by Gor Mahia fans at City stadium.

In 1991, the talented Felix Otieno fell out with coach Len Julians. He left the club in a huff and said that Gor Mahia coach Len Julians who at the time was famous for grooming players, had contributed nothing to his development. Felix was an exceptionally talented player. Far more talented than his well known brother “Bernard Otieno “Zico” of Kenya Breweries. But his indiscipline hindered his career.

Felix Otieno in action against his brother Bernard Otieno “Zico”

Another talented player from that era was Mike Otieno. He had joined the club as an eager 18 year old in 1988. Otieno was quick and strong and often accelerated past befuddled defenders unable to match his quickness off the block. His crosses were exquisite and often led to goals. Mike was so good that he would have ended up in Europe. But his penchant for missing training hindered his career and often led to injuries. He would often disappear from the club for months, only to return out of shape. So when he was appointed Kogalo coach a few years back, yours truly had to laugh.

Heres hoping that Gattuso has learned his lesson and his discipline problems will not rise to the levels seen in past years.

Story by Willy Chopa