Ze Maria: We will keep fighting until the last day

Gor Mahia coach Marcelo Ferreira aka Ze Maria wants his players to keep fighting until the very last day of the league.

“The draw against Sofapaka and other similar results have complicated our situation, but the most important thing is for us to keep fighting until the final day. “The race is never decided until one breaks the tape and at this point, neither Tusker nor us, has seen the tape,” said Ze Maria to the Standard.

The Brazilian tactician knows that it is going to be difficult to motivate the players, many of whom have given up as have many fans and bloggers.

“We know it is now going to be tough, but we are not yet in that panic mode. We have five matches to go, including playing Tusker on the final day of the season,” he continued.

Ze Maria is confident that h his side will register better results than Tusker in the last five games. If you compare the two of us, you will realise that we have dropped points when least expected, so it is not a forgone conclusion that Tusker will win their remaining matches. That is why I am insisting that we are not panicking.”

Gor Mahia will play Tusker in the last game of the season on November 19, a match that could very well decide who wins the league title.

Candidates cry foul over SGM

Gor Mahia did not hold elections in 2015. The eagerly awaited elections are due to be held this year are shrouded in secrecy and mystery.
Additional reporting from the Nation.
As the Gor Mahia fraternity heads to the eagerly-anticipated Special General Meeting on Sunday, leading candidates for the chairmanship position have raised the red flag over the procedure followed in convening the meeting.

Dan Oketch, who is angling to unseat long-serving club boss Ambrose Rachier, on Tuesday said that the planning of the meeting has been shrouded in secrecy.

Chris Omondi, who also wants the top job, also questioned whether the club executive followed the right guidelines as entrenched in the club’s constitution.

“Up to now, we have not been told the exact time when the SGM will begin. Does it mean that the organizers have a hidden agenda or do they want to ambush us?” posed Oketch.

For his part, Omondi said: “The SGM has not been convened procedural because the constitution states that it’s the club chairman or the substantive secretary general who should call for it, yet, in this case, it’s the assistant secretary general. They should come clean on this.”

The SGM is expected to adopt the new constitution and draw a road map for the elections expected to be held in December.

Contacted, acting club secretary general Ronald Ngala defended the office from criticism saying that due process was followed.

“Yes, the deputy secretary general (Anima Aketch) called for the meeting because she was mandated by the executive committee. So, the SGM is an executive decision,” Ngala told Daily Nation Sport.

With the elections long overdue, Oketch and Omondi have been building their support bases with the aim of unseating Rachier.

Oketch has particularly been in an overdrive mode mobilizing supporters off the pitch and also building a strong presence on social media.

If elected, Oketch says that revitalizing the sleeping giant by constructing a modest stadium complete with training facilities as well as injecting professionalism will top his agenda.

Omondi, on the other hand, who served as secretary general before throwing in the towel citing frustration from his colleagues, has been heavily involved with the club’s junior team.

Gor Mahia stumbles but the chase continues

The draw against Sofapaka dented Gor Mahia’s hopes of retaining the league title that they won for three seasons in a row. They now trail leaders Tusker by four points. But with five matches left, the league title is still very much within Gor Mahia’s Tusker since the latter have not exactly been a model of consistency.

“None of these two teams wants to be champions,” football analyst and former Tusker coach Jacob “Ghost” Mulee said. “When Tusker drop points, Gor do the same. When Gor is expected to win, they drop points,” said TV analyst Jacob Ghost Mulee.
To be sure, Gor Mahia still have some crucial encounters to play, in particular against AFC leopards and against Tusker. That match could very well decide who wins the league. Tusker too have to play against Ingwe.
For Gor Mahia, they once again have to pick the positives from the match and learn from it.

“There are three results in football; a win, loss and draw. We got a draw and we appreciate for that. This is just football and it requires patience so one point is enough to be thankful but I think we will work on missed chances and see how strikers can score goals,”said assistant coach Tom Ogweno to Supersport.

Ogweno suggested that Sofapaka came in knowing exactly how to defend against Gor Mahia and it worked for them.

“Sofapaka’s strategy worked for them and that it can only leave us to work for next time. There is no pressure despite the few remaining matches anything can happen but I believe we are still in the title race since we haven’t loss this one,” he continued.

Coach Ze Maria will now be hard pressed to change his tactics before the next game and even within the game. And he will have more than two weeks to re-strategize. The next game will be against Western Stima on October 12.

Ngala accuses Sofapaka of sabotage

Organizing secretary Ronald Ngala for his part accused Sofapaka of sabotage.

“It was like sabotage because you could see they were fighting for a point which had no impact on their survival chances. They played like a final and you wonder where the stubborn goalkeeper was all along when they were losing almost every match. Had they played the way they did yesterday Sunday they would definitely not be at the bottom,” Ngala complained.Ngala is said to Citizen digital.

Ngala admitted that the draw was a huge blow.

“It is a big blow to our bid to lift the KPL title for the fourth time in a row. We were relieved to have reduced the seven-point gap between us and Tusker to only two. Failing to maintain it was disappointing,” he said.

But he says the team is not giving up until its completely over.

“We will accept the league is gone if Tusker will be ahead of us by more than three points after the 29th. The mistake people are making is comparing our performance with that of last season which was an exceptional year,” he added.


Gor Mahia held by Sofapaka

Gor Mahia’s title aspirations ran into a roadblock when they were held scoreless by Sofapaka on Sunday at Nyayo stadium
Additional reporting from Citizen Sports
Basement side Sofapaka FC dented Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions, Gor Mahia’s aspirations of retaining their crown when they forced them into a barren stalemate at Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi on Sunday.

Elsewhere, Victor Ademba gave visiting Sony Sugar a 26th minute lead at Thika United but the hosts forced a share of the spoils when Musa Saad equalised in the 76th to leave the sugar millers tenth (32), three places above their opponents.

The result at Nyayo handed the initiative in the title chase back to leaders Tusker FC who are now four clear at the summit on 48 points with five games to go in an encounter where Sofapaka goalkeeper, Mathias Kigonya, produced a man-of-the-match performance to thwart K’Ogalo.

“We closed Gor at the centre because we knew that is where the danger was. My players had four clear chances of hitting them on the counter but failed to score. We are optimistic we will survive, this was an important match that I believe will inspire my team to fight on in the remaining five matches,” satisfied Sofapaka boss, David Ouma, who returned to the side after his engagements with Harambee Starlets said.

“My return adds something but I want to thank my technical bench for the job they have done in my absence. We own the results as a group whether I’m present or not,” Ouma added.

His team inched to within a point of second from bottom Nairobi City Stars with 16, eight behind Ushuru FC who occupy the last slot to escape the chop.

Gor boss, Marcelo ‘Ze Maria’ Ferreira was too distraught to speak to the media after honouring his obligations with broadcast sponsors as he rued a missed opportunity to turn the pressure on Tusker who won 2-1 on Friday.

Field captain, Musa Mohammed who was marking his record 250th appearance for Gor set the tone for a frustrating afternoon for Gor when he failed to hit the target when a pin-point free kick from the returning Eric ‘Marcelo’ Ouma in the second minute.

Eric Ochieng, who crossed over from Gor to Sofapaka in June then tested Boniface Oluoch with a free-kick in the ninth, before floating another set piece delivery two minutes later but defender Abouba Sibomana got the better of Johnson Baagole in an aerial contest to avert danger.

Ouma then wasted two chances in quick succession, his first shot from close range was denied by the keeper when Gor raced to the other end after being put through goal by a glorious cross from Karim Nzigiyamana before he failed to turn in a George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo pass across goal in the 19th.

Jacques Tuyisenge then almost gave the title-holders the lead in the 23rd, Nzigiyamana crossing to him from the right only to be denied by Kigonya as he prepared to pull the trigger.

In the 35th, Tuyisenge’s header flew just over with Kigonya beaten, after he was set up by Francis Kahata.
On the stroke of the half time, Kigonya blunder almost gifted Gor the opener in the only blot to his commanding shift between the sticks after he needlessly handled the ball just outside the box.

The resultant free-kick was blocked by Francis Kentile and the whistle blew for half time before Earnest Wendo could convert the rebound much to the chagrin of K’Ogalo players.

At the restart, Ouma introduced Charles Melubo for Fredrick Ojwang and the new man saved his side when he deflected Kahata’s shot that was flying in out for a fruitless corner.

Gor pinned Batoto ba Mungu in their own half with Meddie Kagere who was playing on the right flank in the first half joining Tuyisenge in a central forward role as Ze Maria switched to a two-pronged attack.

The former Brazilian international then introduced exciting youngster, Amos Nondi resting Sibomana with the new man paving way for Odhiambo to switch flanks to the left as Ouma dropped to defence.

Gor’s all out attack was almost caught out cold in the 67th when Salim Gichuki stole the ball from Nzigiyamana and quickly crossed to the unmarked Melubo who spurned the chance by firing straight to the under employed Olouch.

Ze Maria then hauled off Odhiambo for Ugandan Godfrey Walusimbi, before finally withdrawing Nzigiyamana for former Sofapaka man Enoch Agwanda in a last ditch effort to find a breakthrough.

Agwanda’s corner in the 85th found Mohammed in the box but the skipper was denied the headlines when his finish cannoned off the cross bar in what was the last clear cut opportunity for the champions to grab victory.

K’Ogalo’s profligacy returned to haunt them after successive wins reignited their challenge after cutting down a seven-point lead to two in what was their sixth draw in eight KPL games.

Gor Mahia vs Sofapaka in key encounter

This Sunday Nyayo stadium will feature a crunch match between defending champions and Soafapaka. Gor Mahia cannot afford any slip ups. They are now placed 5 points behind league leaders Tusker who have played an extra game.

Both teams will be highly motivated. Gor Mahia have to keep pace with league leaders Tusker. Sofapaka are in 15th place and staring relegation in the face. They need to gather as many points as possible to have any hope of surviving the big chop. Though in 15th place, Sofapaka have shown a few flashes of their former brilliance, such as when they trounced City Stars 5-0. But they have been sub par in their last two games, losing 1-3 to Ulinzi and 0-1 to Posta Rangers.  Gor Mahia for their part are on the recovery path and have won their last two matches.

Match details

VIP tickets will be sold for Ksh. 500 while regular (terrace) will trade at Ksh. 200.  Big Brother events and ticketing firm will be in charge of the process and fans have been warned that there will be no advance ticketing.

Kickoff: Sunday, September 25 , 4:15 pm at Nyayo stadium

Profile of Sandro Fantoni

Gor Mahia’s maverick athletic trainer Sandro Fantoni, arrived at the club this January, accompanying coach Ze Maria. Fantoni, who has been nicknamed “Onyango” by fans is often seen parading up and down the sidelines, gesturing wildy, shouting at match officials. So much so that he once had to be calmed by players as he stormed the field, accusing the referee of biased officiating.

The law finally caught up with Fantoni. He has been suspended for one match by the league’s Independent Disciplinary and Complaints Committee (IDCC)  who found the Italian guilty of poor conduct in several.

The committee has further asked Fantoni to review his temper and reactions, warning that they will respond very harshly if he is involved in another case of misconduct this season.

“Mr. Fantoni will serve a further period of exclusion for one match being the immediate next Gor Mahia FC match following this decision. For that match Mr. Fantoni shall not be allowed within any area of the applicable stadium.

“Mr. Fantoni is further put on notice to review and temper his actions/reactions and that any reference to this committee for misconduct within this season if proved shall attract stiffer penalties,” the IDCC ruling read.


Sandro Fantoni, has been a trainer for several top Italian sides , most recently  Salerno Calcio and Salernitana. His most recent position was in Saudi Arabia with Al-Ra’ed . Prior to that he was in Romania, training  the players of Ceahlaul, a military side in the top Romanian league.It was here that he worked with Ze Maria.

Prior to that, he was in China as an assistant coach of Tianjin, when the head coach was was Beppe Materazzi. That was in 2003.  He is a a football nomad,  who in Italy has worked with teams like Lazio, Frosinone , Bari, Taranto and Novara.

In Salerno – where he won two consecutive championships, series D and Serie C – all remember him with affection and respect, due to his excellent wor. In Italy he is famously known as the Grenade. 

Lets bring fans back to the stadiums

The 2016 Kenya Premier League race is going to be a close race. With six matches left, the playing unit will need fans to throw their weight behind them. Skipper Musa Mohamed has stated that fan support has been a significant key to victory in the last two matches.

“Our supporters too were very crucial in the win as they have always been, Gor’s long-serving defender”

With that in mind, fans should make their way back to the terraces to help carry the team as the league goes to the final sprint in what promises to be a photo finish. The club can do its part by perhaps lowering ticket prices significantly and aggressively promoting matches.

Let us make the 12th man count !

Remaining Fixtures

Sun 25-09-16 16:15 Sofapaka vs Gor Mahia Nyayo Stadium
Wed 12-10-16 16:15 Gor Mahia vs Western Stima Nyayo Stadium
Sun 23-10-16 15:00 AFC Leopards vs Gor Mahia Nyayo Stadium
Sun 30-10-16 16:15 Gor Mahia vs Mathare United Kasarani Stadium
Sat 05-11-16 15:00 Muhoroni Youth vs Gor Mahia Moi Stadium
Sat 19-11-16 15:00 Gor Mahia vs Tusker Nyayo Stadium

What happened to the crowds?

But even as Musa Mohamed lauds the fan base for helping push the team in the last two games,  he must be wondering what happened to the massive crowds he first witnessed when he joined the club  back in 2009. The years between 2009 and 2011 saw the highest crowds that Gor Mahia has seen during this millenium. Even midweek matches would cause Nyayo stadium to be packed to the rafters. Such was the case when Gor Mahia played Sofapaka in a tense midweek encounter in 2010.

Gor Mahia vs Sofapaka in a midweek encounter in 2010
Gor Mahia vs Sofapaka in a midweek encounter in 2010

And this was during a period when Gor Mahia had gone 15 years without winning a league title and a top 5 finish was a huge achievement. Yet back then the fan support was more passionate and attendance was impressive. It seemed like it was just a matter of time before Kogalo started recording crowds like those that were seen in the early 1980s.

This a starke contrast to what is happening today.  Now Gor Mahia have won the league three times in a row. Last year the club won the league unbeaten. So you would think the crowds would be even larger than they were in 2010.  Yet the exact opposite is true. You now see Gor Mahia playing at Nyayo stadium with vast swathes of the stadium unfilled. Such was the case last weekend when Gor Mahia played Chemelil at Nyayo.

Where were the fans?

So what has happened and what can be done?  There are a number of steps that can be taken:

Reduce ticket prices

Though the current ticket prices are low (Ksh 500 of Main stand and Ksh 200 for terraces), reducing the ticket prices will be seen as a sign of goodwill by many fans. And for many non-fans who having nothing else to do on a Saturday, the psychological effect of spending only Ksh 100 to watch a top tier match will be compelling

Enhance security and re-assure the public

Recent incidences of insecurity are the key factor in falling attendance. There have been some terrible incidences including one where a fan died. So much so that most people now see attending a Gor Mahia of AFC match as taking your life in your hands. In January Gor Mahia announced enhanced security measures including adding plainclothes policemen and jail cells within the stadium. But all this was undone when a handful of fans wreaked havoc in the match against Tusker costing Gor Mahia 3 points. How did this fan cause so much havoc if there is extra security?

Not only should Gor Mahia enhance security in and around the stadium to prevent such incidences, but the club should also seek to re-assure the public that because of the extra security, the stadium is now a much safer place. And the club must re-assure the public that this security will be in place whether Gor Mahia is the host team or not.

Promote matches

There used to be a buzz around Gor Mahia matches. The stadium was considered a hip place to be. Politicians would be seen occupying prominent positions at the main stand. The Kenya tourism board would encourage tourists to attend matches. As such it was not uncommon to see hoardes of tourists at matches.

Some of this happened because the club was getting good publicity. For example the report below by Mike Okinyi of citizen sports was one among many that sent neutral fans scampering to the stadium.

That report was like solid gold for attendance. Such positive coverage was a key reason that attendance was soaring.

This positive coverage no longer happens. Nowadays every news report is about hooliganism. Many of the young ladies you see in that video have been discouraged by their parents from attending matches.

Aside from anti-hooliganism measures, the club can publicize positive aspects of the team and the playing unit. Gor Mahia has international calibre players like Tuyisenge and a coach who played for Brazil. These are just two aspects that can be used to market the team to potential fans.

It is up to the club to bring this buzz back. Partner with news outlets to create positive stories. For every story about hooliganism, the club should work hard to create positive stories. The club’s fans have dug a deep hole in terms of public relations. Its now up to the same fans and the club officials to come up with creative ways to restore the club’s image and make the stadium a hip destination again.



Gor Mahia special general meeting on October 2

“Gor Mahia will hold its SGM on Sunday, October 2, 2016, at the Nyayo Stadium Gymnasium from 10:00am. All stakeholders are asked to attend with club constitution review being the main agenda.”

The meeting will be held on Sunday October 2 at Nyayo stadium. The topmost agenda item will be Constitutional review. Chairman Ambrose Rachier is also expected to outline plans for club elections which were not held in 2015.

Among the people who have announced their candidacy for the chairmanship is Chris Omondi, the former secretary general and Dan Oketch.

City Stars beat Gor Mahia

Gor Mahia went down 2-3 to Nairobi city stars
Additional reporting from goal.com
City Stars, who are languishing at the bottom of the table, took the lead courtesy of an own goal via defender Luke Ochieng’ before Jacob Keli leveled matters for the champions in the 26th minute. However, Omar Mustafa put City Stats 2-1 up in the 55th minute.

City Stars were never done yet as Benson Iregi made it 3-1 before Enock Agwanda struck the second for K’Ogalo five minutes to the final whistle. Both teams used the friendly to gauge their preparedness ahead of upcoming league matches.

Gor Mahia coach Ze Maria benched a number of regular starters preferring goalkeeper Sammy Okinda to start ahead of Boniface Oluoch and Fredrick Onyango. Brazilian Thiago de Lima Silva started upfront alongside Crispin Odula and Anthony Mbugua.

Musa Lauds team spirit as Ze Maria praises Ulinzi

As Gor Mahia approaches the remaining six matches. Only two points separate the two teams. And there are three teams that are tied at 37 points and within shouting distance of Gor Mahia and Tusker. Gor Mahia skipper Musa Mohamed has said that the team change in fortunes for the team was due to a laser like focus.

“The team is focused. I feel there is a change in mentality as the display today showed.”

Musa also knows that focus among team members is going to be crucial in the last six games.

“Of course the win is very important s as we reduced the gap between us and Tusker. Our  main focus is however on approaching and playing all our remaining game well and get results in “each game. ” said Musa to futaa.com

As for Brazilian tactician Ze Maria, he was full of praise for Ulinzi Stars whom he said came ready to play real football.

“Every team needs to be like Ulinzi. Many teams come into our matches looking to defend so much that they end up not playing at all. Ulinzi didn’t do that. They ran in the first half and they ran in the second half and you could see that they were prepared to win. That is football.” said Ze Maria to the KPL website.

Ze maria says playing positive football enables players to show their real attributes.

“When a team comes prepared to win and not just to avoid conceding goals, it becomes even more beneficial to the players because they end up showing real football attributes. I hope all teams in this country can play like that,” Ferreira said.

But Ze Maria should fully expect the remaining teams to park the proverbial bus against Gor Mahia. And he will need to adjust his tactics as such. Gor Mahia’s next match is against Sofapaka on September-25.