Gor Mahia is a club steeped in history. During its 45 year existence, the club has seen its fair share of legendary players. Not to be left behind are the legendary coaches who have led this great side : There is the Italian Peter Pampuro who in 1975 established the clubs’s first youth team and was key to building the team that won the league unbeaten in 1976. Allan Thigo became a legend as player/coach he helped lead Kogalo to the 1979 Africa cup winners cup final. The Ugandan David Otti is a club legend for leading the club to two succesive CECAFA cup triumphs. The biggest legend of them all is Len Julians. Under him, the club won the league 3 times in a row. No Kenyan team has won the league three times in a row since then, His keen interest in young players saw him recruit young players from obscurity and turn them into top class players who went on to win the Africa cup winners cup in 1987. Julians had briefly revived the club’s youth team before it was disbanded for lack of funds. There was Maurice Ochieng who coached Gor Mahia to victory against all odds in the 1985 CECAFA cup when the club played without six of its top players who were serving CAF suspensions along with coach Len Julians. Jack Johnson will forever be remembered as the coach/technical advisor who led Gor Mahia to win the Africa cup winners cup in 1987. Another feat that has never been repeated by a Kenyan team. There is also Serbian Vojo Gardasevic who was responsible for the club’s last league triumph in 1995 and almost won the league again in 1997. Under Vojo, Gor Mahia not only won but played scintillating football and the players had a never say die attitude. James Sianga used his contacts at the grassroots to identify good players whom he gave a chance. Some were still in secondary school. Many of them turned into solid first team players. Sianga helped win the FKF cup against all odds and under difficult circumstances. Say what you may about coach Zico but came within a point of winning the league in 2011. Fans will have mostly good memories of these coaches.
What of Logarusic ? How will the club fans remember him ? To be sure, he had a chance to become a club legend. Last season he took the club from the relegation zone to the brink of winning the league. During the 2013 season however , things became a little more difficult as the club had already lost two games and settled for a series of draws. Nevertheless, points wise the club was still in contention when Logarusic launched one of his temper tantrums. He placed a series of unreasonable demands on the club, chief among them was the demand for a raise supposedly because the club was receiving a better sponsorship deal. This is a sign of unabashed greed and disrespect for previous agreements. He also complained at not having a contract. Never mind the fact that he had been working all along without one. He then claimed that some members of the club’s executive committee wanted him out. However this does not wash when you consider that he is said to have the support of the club’s chairman Ambrose Rachier who inexplicably has been silent on this issue. Remember the Kenya rugby sevens coach Mike Friday took the correct approach even when other officials threatened to fire him and went through with their threat, he stayed calm knowing that it was the Union chairman who had the final say. Logarusic, if he was more committed to the club would have come back to fight for his place regardless of the hostility of club members. The fans were initially fully behind him and thus he would have weathered the storm. It is this lack of commitment to the club that is likely to be the lasting memory. He quit on the club at a time when fans were eager to win a title they have not won in 18 years.
In hindsight, the fan base should have seen it coming. Not only had Logarusic pulled his temper tantrums before , but fans will remember that when he joined Gor Mahia from King Faisal of Ghana, he had left the Ghanaian side under similar acrimonious circumstances.
The Kumasi-based side was lefts fuming with anger after the former Logarusic performed a dramatic u-turn to sign a one year deal with struggling Kenyan giant Gor Mahia, just days after reaching an agreement with the second-tier side.
Faisal brought him to the country and paid for his expenses which included airfare and accommodation. He also trained with the side once but shockingly left the West African country without informing officials of the second-tier side to ink a one year-deal with K’Ogalo.
The club’s Chief Executive reported Loga to FIFA. It should come as no shock that Logarusic pulled a similar stunt at Gor Mahia. It should also come as no surprise that he had agreed to work without a contract. This left him with the freedom to leave at any time he wanted with no consequences.
But fans will also note that Loga had no interest nor patience in grooming young players, something that the club had become known for during its 47 year existence.
Who is next ?
Bobby Ogolla has declared his interest to take over as head coach on a permament basis. “I really want the Gor Mahia head coach job on a permanent basis. I have a point to prove to everyone.” “I have been an assistant for so long at Gor and helped so many coaches before and I see nothing wrong for once getting the job as I know I can do it,” Ogolla told Supersport.com. However it must be said that his timing was not good given that the club had just slumped to two unimpressive draws under his watch.
A host of other coaches have expressed interest including Jan Koops, the former AFC Leopards coach. The club’s secretary general George Bwana has recently dismmissed the notion that the club had approached Sam Ssimbwa, the former Sofapaka coach who recently led Express of Uganda to the quarter finals of the CECAFA cup.
Having watched the dramatic improvement that the Brazil national team has undergone under Felipe Scolari, it is clear that the right coach can make a huge difference. Scolari took over a listless, clueless Brazil side that was ranked number 22 by FIFA and in short order has transformed them into a well organized team with a tremendous fighting spirit good enough to win the Confederations cup. A club of Gor Mahia’s calibre deserves a top tier coach. Key among his chracteristics is that he must have ideas on how to break through bunker defences which every KPL team now employs against Kogalo. He should ideally also have an interest in working with young players and grooming them into top tier players.