Gor Mahia shift attention to local scene

Will Abondo return to the starting line-up?

With the continental campaign having come to a sudden but expected end, Gor Mahia will now shift attention to the local scene where they have two difficult yet pivotal matches: On Thursday, Gor Mahia taken on Ulinzi Stars at Afraha stadium. Three days later they confront arch rivals AFC Leopards at Nyayo stadium.

Both matches are pivotal since both Ulinzi and AFC Leopards are contenders. Both teams have four points from two games. And last season, the matches against both of these teams were inconclusive. Gor Mahia played Ulinzi with four matches left in the league. The game was marred by rough play as coach Robert Matano instructed his side to disrupt Gor Mahia by employing robust tackles. The game ended scoreless. Frank Nuttall should employ some gamesmanship by reminding the referees of Ulinzi’s rough play last season and ask them to be more watchful. The first leg match in May ended in a 2-0 win for Gor Mahia with Kagere and Olunga scoring.

Against AFC, the latter proved a tough nut to crack. Derby matches are always unpredictable. AFC were about to finally crack when they conceded a late penalty. Only for their fans to disrupt the match with acts of hooliganism.

For Gor Mahia, they will be strongly motivated to put aside their poor start. Coach Nuttall should be able to call upon players who have been unavailable of late including Ali Abondo, Francis Kahata, Innocent Wafula and Khalid Aucho. The latter two have played sparingly since they returned late.

Abondo and his clinical finishes is the man Gor Mahia will be hoping can provide a boost in the same manner he did last season, scoring crucial goals when Olunga and Kagere were yet to find their scoring boots. The Madagascan media reports that against CNaPS on Saturday, Gor Mahia dominated most of the first half but could not convert their possession into goals. In the second half they ran out of steam. A similar scenario ensued against Chemelil Sugar. Abondo could be the man to break this cycle.

Media asks what went wrong

The media and experts have been offering various explanations for the early exit of both Gor Mahia and Bandari. Many in the media have blamed the low Standards of the Kenya premeier league. This does not explain why Gor Mahia lost to CNaPS. The Madagascan league is not of a higher standard than the KPL. In fact the standards are so low that CNaPS have won many matches by scores like 6-1, 7-0 and even 9-1.

Others have blamed KPL’s decision to limit the number of foreigners. But CNaPS had no foreigners in their team.

Former Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Premier League Chief Executive Lodvick Aduda blamed the current calendar, which he says does not give local clubs adequate time to prepare for their continental fixtures.

“This is something we have talked about for a long time and we now must go ahead and implement a change of calendar to ensure that our clubs have adequate time to prepare for their continental assignments,” he said.

But the Madagascan league follows a similar calendar to Kenya’s.
All in all the minor culprit is disunity between players, coaches and the executive committee as well as poor planning by EC that saw players like Kahata, Tuyisenge left out. Not to mention the truancy and indiscipline among certain players perhaps resting on the laurels of the successful 2015 season.

Perhaps the biggest culprit is the attack that has suddenly gone blunt. The Madagascan media are reporting that Gor Mahia thoroughly dominated the first 39 minutes of the game but could not translate their dominance to goals. George Odhiambo came closest in the 11th minute but his effort crashed against the post.

Let peace reign

The Gor Mahia bloggers branch has of late made numerous requests asking :
1. The technical bench to make peace with the executive committee
2. The coach and players to make peace
3. Fans to maintain peace in the terraces and accept defeat

By the same token I would also urge bloggers to make peace. The loss to CNaPS has raised tempers and some bloggers are venting their frustrations on other bloggers. Going forward I will have no choice but to delete comments that are laced with foul language, insults and trolling. It is okay to disagree with bloggers but you can do so peaceably civilly and intelligently. This is important in order to maintain a peaceful atmosphere.

Gor Mahia eliminated from Africa Champions league

Gor Mahia vs CNaPS in Mahajanga.
Image courtesy of Bonface Osano

Gor Mahia were eliminated from the 2016 Africa Champions league when they lost 0-1 to CNaPS for a 3-1 aggregate score. CNaPS scored their goal in the first half through Njiva Rakotoharimalala , the man that this author identified as their most dangerous player3 weeks ago.

“We were in the game on opening minutes but the moment they scored…that goal put us off the mark. We allowed them time to dominate and were eventually punished.” said coach Frank Nuttall after the game.

For Gor Mahia, their goal drought continues. It is something the team will need to address as they resume their league campaign.

Starting XI – 1. Fredrick Onyango -GK (Cpt), 15. Bernard Odhiambo, 3. Abouba Sibomana, 5. Musa Mohammed, 18. Harun Shakava, 20. Ernest Wendo, 17. Eric Ochieng, 2. Godfrey Walusimbi, 7. Ronald Omino, 25. George Odhiambo, 25. Enock Agwanda.

Substitues – 23. Bonface Oluoch -GK, 14. Nizigiyimana Karim, 4. James Ogada, 10. Khalid Aucho, 27. Jacob Keli, 21. Eric ouma, 11. Amos Nondi.

Gor Mahia ready to go to war

Facing a tall order in Madagascar, Gor Mahia will need to play the match of their lives to overcome two away goals and a 1-2 deficit. Experienced Central defender Musa Mohamed understands the task ahead.
We must put up a great fight and secure ourselves passage to the next round. We have been here before against this same team (CNaPS) and we have the believe that we can do it again,” he said to the club site.

Musa was in Madagascar last year and should not be overawed by the raucous crowd in Mahajanga. Working in Gor Mahia’s favour is that this time the crowd will be much smaller. The main stadium in Antananarivo which hosted the match last year is not available. As such the match will be played in Mahajanga whose stadium is a 10,000 seater. Still Musa understands the depth of the task ahead. Gor Mahia will need to conert the chances that come their way while maintaining defensive discipline.

“The situation is however different this time. They have the advantage over us unlike last year and we must be clinical to make our chances count. We have had a good preparation for this match and the team morale is high. We have been in that stadium and we know what the atmosphere there will be and just like last season we can score goals there.” he continued.

Indeed defensive discipline is important: Madagascan sides have proven over and over that they can use their speed to capitalize on defensive lapses as BTM did in 1988 when Jean Claude Rabeamanana capitalized on a loose back pass to score. Luckily Gor Mahia were still able to win 3-1 on aggregate.

Coach Frank Nuttall while acknowledging the steep task ahead, is still optimistic that his side can turn the tables
“We are going there with one mission, to win big and hopefully make it to the next round,” he said.
“The first leg was a disaster for us, but at least we have a goal. We know it is not going to be easy but we will give it our best shot. We have not lost hope yet,” he told the Nation.

One player who could help resolve Gor Mahia’s goal-scoring woes in Ali Abondo who recently returned from trials in South Africa. Abondo scored in Madagascar last year. However by Thursday evening, it was not even clear if Abondo would travel.

“He was expected to return on Sunday and we expect him to join the team for training tomorrow (Wednesday). Unless the coach has a problem we shall travel with him because we are yet to receive any information about him signing for another club and we need him.” said Ngala to goal.com

It would be advisable for coach Nuttall to bring Abondo and assess his ability to fit with the rest of the team on Friday. His fitness is not in question since he has been training in South Africa for four weeks.

CNaPS taking no chances as they await Gor Mahia

Buoyed by their crucial away win, CNaPS sport are confident ahead of the return leg encounter against Gor Mahia. The Madagascan newspapers are replete with stories saying that though Gor Mahia play very physical football that borders on rough play, they have nothing to fear since it is unlikely that Gor Mahia will overcome the deficit away from home. So confident are the papers that they have already started to analyze their potential matchup against Wydad Casablanca of Morocco.

The same cannot be said of the coach or the players. Coach Hery Raberisoa is not resting on his laurels. After the match in Nairobi, he spoke of his resolve to win the second leg.
“Kenyans have evolved technically, compared to last year. For our part, we will completely forget the first leg and focus the meeting of Mahajanga as if it were a final, need to win at all costs, “said the coach.

The captain of CNaPS, Ando, is aligned with the words of his coach and says his team is going for nothing short of a win
“After our win on Saturday, we were all very happy. But we will not rest on our laurels. We must win in Mahajanga, to endorse our qualification. ”

CNaPS have shown that they have the ability to score goals rapidly. As was stated in this column 3 weeks ago, they build their attacks from the flanks. Which means the Gor Mahia full back pair of Nizigiyimana and Sibomana will need to be a lot more vigilant and alert than they were at Nyayo stadium two weeks ago. CNaPS will likely go for early goals to further dig Gor Mahia into a hole that is too deep to climb. Nuttall needs to prepare his team for this assault and prepare them psychologically to fight back no matter the odds. Last year Gor Mahia looked dead and buried until Blackberry scored a late goal.

Indeed Gor Mahia should prepare to face a hostile crowd. Unlike the situation in Kenya, Madagascans always turn out in large numbers to cheer their home teams in international matches. Even corporate teams like CNaPS who are popularly known as “The Cashiers” which is Kenya’s equivalent of NSSF and whose team has existed for a very short period always get huge raucous crowds. Quite unlike Kenya where attendance is low for community teams and much much lower for corporate teams. So Frank Nuttall will need to prepare his side for a hostile environment.

However Gor Mahia haev shown time and again that they care capable of putting on a better performance away from home. Against Anse Re-Union in 2013, Gor Mahia put on a dismal performance at home and a much better performance away. Even against CNaPS last year, Gor Mahia scored twice away from home. Things are tougher this time. Fans will be praying for a miracle.

Missing from the traveling squad is Collins Okoth “Gattuso” who could not sort out his travel documents on time thus laying bare the shoddy organization and poor discipline at the club. Ali Abondo who returned on Tuesday will not travel either. He is in Kenya awaiting a response from Ajax Cape Town with hopes of joining them soon.

The match will be played on Saturday at the 10,000-seater Alexander Rabemananjara Stadium in Mahajanga, on the North West coast of the country. Gor Mahia are treveling on Thursday

Traveling Squad

Goalkeepers: Jerim Onyango, Boniface Oluoch, Gradus Ochieng

Defenders: Musa Mohamed, Abouba Sibomana, Karim Nizigiyimana, Harun Shakava, Bernard Odhiambo.

Midfielders: Khalid Aucho, Ernest Wendo, Eric Ouma, Eric Ochieng, Amons Nondi, James Ogada

Strikers: Jacob Keli, Enock Agwanda, George Odhiambo, Ronald Omino, Edmond Murai.

Video: Gor Mahia signed kit contract

Gor Mahia have secured a Sh15 million sponsorship deal with Italian apparel manufacturers, Legea.

“Talks have been ongoing for weeks and a deal is in the pipeline but I can’t say how close we are to an agreement but its true we have been engaging Legea apparel,” said Gor organising secretary David Kiilo to the Star Newspaper.

According to the agreement, Gor Mahia will wear the branded kit for four years. Gor senior vice chairman Erick Wasuna confirmed the club had signed the deal last week and they expect delivery of first consignment in first two weeks of March.

“It feels exciting that this could be one of the best kit sponsorship package that is expected to bring quality products to a quality team like Gor Mahia— a team that has exemplified the true spirit of success both at home and away,” said Hector.

In the video, Chairman Rachier explains that the club will take steps to ensure counterfeiters no longer sale Gor Mahia jerseys

Nuttall optimistic ahead of return leg

Nuttall with Enock Agwanda on Saturday Image courtesy of Boniface Osano

Despite losing the Africa champions league preliminary round first leg match at home to CNaPS, coach Frank Nuttall is optimistic that Gor Mahia can turn the tables on their Madagascan challengers.
“Having lost the first leg makes us the underdogs and we understand it will be a tough match. However, we also know that there is a good chance we can win and so the players will be giving their best,” he said.

“It will be a tall order for Gor Mahia. They have scored two goals in the last four matches.Nuttall admitted that the team is having difficulties converting the many chances they create and will need to work on it ahead of the weekend match.” said Nuttall to the Standard.

New signing Jacob Keli has yet to show the spark that made him a hot commodity two years ago. Which is surprising considering that he has been playing well for the national team. Perhaps the return of Ali Abondo who is scheduled to resume training on Wednesday will boost the team

When asked about the rift between him and goalkeeper Boniface Oluoch, Nuttall would not commit.

“He trained very well today and is fine. Like all CAF registered players, he remains in contention for selection this weekend,”

Jerim Onyango played well in his place and could very well be preferred between the posts in Madagascar. His return to the starting line-up has further motivated Jerim who spent most of 2015 on the bench.
“Its always good to be out there playing. I am happy with my performance in the two matches. But the most important thing is to have team work. It is not every day that we will all get playing time. Of course one gets disappointed when not fielded but for me it always gives me a challenge to work even harder to get better while at the same time it makes me learn from what the other keeper has done right” said Jerim to the Nation.

Late arrivals blamed for slow start

Gor Mahia assistant coach Frank Ouna who has recently been appointed as an assistant coach for Harambee stars, is adamant that the pathcy pre-season training that the team had is the reason for the slow start to the 2016 season.

“It’s a testament of the fragmented pre-season we had. So as coaches we are not worried since we know it’s a matter of time, probably two weeks from today and we will hit our top most gear.

I think there’s nothing to worry about. We are in control of everything, the kind of performance we have been putting in, if you observe the Bandari, Chemelil and now the Posta Rangers games, we keep improving and going up,” the recently appointed Harambee Stars third coach affirmed.

“We had players coming in at different times during pre-season and it affects since you expect them to work as a unit. We are just two weeks away to completing the normally six weeks of pre season with everybody in.” said Ouna to Citizen sports.

Ouna further stated that the team had not planned to field Wafula at half-time but his inclusion was neccesitated by the injury to Blackberry.

“Wafula had done only a few days, we had planned to play him only 20 minutes yesterday (Sunday) but unfortunately George got injured and he had to play for 45 and that is risky for us but we had our chances limited.” he continued.

It is interesting that in this case, Gor Mahia opted to replace a striker with a midfielder. This means they were hoping to hold onto their one goal lead. Chances are that Nuttall now does not quite trust his attack and is more apt to rely on defense to win games.

Skipper Jerim Onyango is also of the opinion that the team will rectify the mistake that saw them concede a late goal.

“I feel bad for conceding a goal in that minute, this is a football game and all in all we will rectify the mistakes and things will be okay he said after the match.  We will be under pressure to perform because that is two matches in a row for us without a win in KPL we will still continue to work hard and perform.”  said Jerim after the match.

Michael Olunga’s transfer fees

Reports suggest that IF Djugarden will pay Ksh 16 million as transfer fees for Michael Olunga. The bulk of this amount will go to Liberty Professionals whose technical director is Jacob Ghost Mulee. Gor Mahia ars said tio be in line to receive Ksh 1 million from the transfer.

“Since he is still U-23, we are entitled to development fee which is a percentage of the transfer fee. We are consulting with his handlers to understand exactly how much was paid before we can claim our share,” Ngala told Goal.

The reported transfer fee once again highlights the need to maintain the Gor Mahia U19 team which is capable of unearthing talents like these at the grassroots.