8 Apr 13

In the past 10 years, Kenyan teams have been pitted against Egyptian teams in continental football. According to this article, Kenyan teams have been slated to play Egyptian teams almost a dozen times in the 1st round. Teams like Gor Mahia, Tusker, Ulinzi, Nzoia, Chemelil have all been dispatched with relative ease. Whether this is due to zoning or due to a conspiracy at CAF, it is a given that Kenyan teams will continue to match up with Egyptian teams. It is also a given that Egyptians are way ahead in terms of player quality, finances, facilities, tactical approach and other critical aspects.

What can Gor Mahia and other Kenyan teams do to close the gap on Egyptian teams ?

Restructure and professionalize the club

In organizational terms, the gap between Egyptian teams is tremendous. Currently Gor Mahia has 3 Vice Chairmen, a secretary general and an assistant secretary general, an organizing secretary as well as a treasurer and an assistant treasurer, . It is not clear to anybody what their role is. It is not clear what each of them does. The only clear thing is that they are all on the club’s payroll and draw a monthy allowance or salary, whichever way you think of it.

These positions were created when the club’s constitution was created decades ago. They were created out of self interest because many people in the room at the time wanted a position at the high table. These positions have nothing to do with making the club better. Its time to modernize the club. Rather than have positions with no clear role, the club should replace these elective positions with positions where people are hired with specific roles and are on performance contracts.

You can replace all four secretary positions with the position of General Manager. This will be a person with knowledge about sports marketing, who understands FIFA, CAF and FKF rules and regulations. This person will have clear targets and his or her remuneration will be payed based on metrics such as how much attendance increases, how much membership increases, merchandize sales and sponsorship.

The two treasurer positions can be replaced by an accountant who task is to maintain the clubs accounts efficiently, and publish audited club accounts.

Some of the elected officials at Gor Mahia are indeed hardworking. But there is no accountability because their roles are not clearly defined. An elected official could go through his or her entire term without ever lifting a finger to do anything. This gets the club nowhere.

The only elected positions should be the positions of Chairmen and Vice Chairman. The rest of the positions should be advertized in the papers. An external auditing company such as KPMG should then be tasked with hiring the most competent candidates who should be on performance based contracts.

Instead of 3 Vice Chairmen, there should only be one.  The second and third Vice Chairman should be replaced by the position of YOUTH DEVELOPMENT COACH. This brings me to the second and most critical issue.

The goal of the youth development coach will be to traverse the country to recruit promising young players. He will then be responsible for grooming these players through their teen years and turning them into top tier players. Youth coaches all over the world are measured based on how many of their products become regular first team players. Thus the Manchester youth coaches (Brian Kidd and Eric Harrison)  who produced Beckham, Scholes, Giggs, Nickey Butt, Gary Neville, Robbie Savage etc during the 1990s were well regarded by fans and by Sir Alex Ferguson. The ones who replaced them were soon fired for not producing first team regulars. The performance of the Gor Mahia youth coach should also be measured as such.

YOUTH DEVELOPMENT

The biggest complaint that coach Logarusic had on Saturday was that the club did not have the quality of strikers needed to beat teams like ENPPI. In his mind the club created many scoring chances and only poor finishing let them down. It is no accident that scoring is scarce in the Kenya premier league. Kenyan strikers lack the poise, accuracy and tactical ability needed.

In terms of tactical acumen, the Egyptian teams are way ahead of their Kenyan counterparts. When Logarusic first came to wKenya, he noted that he has to teach Kenyan players tactical ideas that are well known by 14 year olds in Europe. Thus whereas Egyptian players have been applying modern team tactics since their teens and enhancing their knowledge with each season, their Kenyan counterparts only started recently and often too late. It is like the Egyptians are using PhD level mathematics to solve technical problems while Gor Mahia are using Form four levels mathematics which are rudimentary in comparison.

As noted, Gor Mahia also lacked midfield playmakers who can carry the ball from defence to attack. This often forced them into using long balls which are a waste when the team has short strikers.

A third factor which caused Gor Mahia to loose and which will continue to haunt them is their inability to convert set pieces. When ENPPI beat Gor Mahia 3-0, two of their goals were from set-pieces.  And how often does Gor Mahia score from set pieces ?  On Saturday Gor Mahia forced 7 corners, none of which resulted in a decent a attempt at goal.

When Gor Mahia achieved continental glory in 1987, they had a very good team. But their ability to score on set pieces is what ultimately allowed them to win the title. In Peter Dawo they had a striker able to convert indirect freekicks, corners and throw ins that were delivered with laser like precision by Abbas Magongo, Sammy Onyango and Tobias Ocholla respectively.

Sammy Onyango’s ability to deliver corners to precisely where Dawo wanted was borne out of the fact that he was one of the few Kenyan footballers of that era lucky enough to attend the Olympic youth talent development centers established by German coach Bernard Zgoll whose work was later sabotaged by self centered officials. Through constant practise during his youth years, Sammy Onyango became not only a superb corner taker but perhaps the most precise crosser in the history of Kenya football. Those who watched the match between Al Ahly and Tusker at Nyayo will remember the precise cross that resulted in Al Ahly’s second goal. Those skills do not happen by accident. They do not happen when young players grow up playing with ball ya jwalla hapo Jericho as is the case with most Kenyan players.

Speaking of set pieces, one had to marvel at Francis Kahata’s strike against Nigeria two weeks ago. It just so happens that Thika United and perhaps Mathare United (in the past) are the only teams in the Kenyan premier league that ever made a serious attempt at youth development. Both Kahata and pass master Peter Opiyo joined Thika at age 13 and both were in Thika United’s scholarship system that allows players to attend Chania high school free. Thika has recently also produced national team  players like Abdalla Juma, Kepha Aswani, Moses Arita etc. Gor Mahia has the capacity to produce better players and thus should not have any excuse. When one or two of these players are sold overseas, the money can be injected back into the club’s youth development scheme.

Yet Gor Mahia  have no inclination towards any kind of youth development. Recently Peter Orero the Upper Hill headmaster made overtures to the club for some kind of partnership but the response from the club has been lukewarm. Logarusic has not shown interest in developing young players. Fans will remember that it was Len Julians who built the team that finally became Africa champions. He was keen on signing young players and grooming them into top calibre players.

Start building the club’s assets

The club must have a sound financial base in order to compete with the likes of ENPPI. Which means they must start building an asset base.

The first step in this regard is to enlist the help of the newly elected governor for Nairobi, Dr. Evans Kidero to help the club reclaim land that was donated to it at Kasarani or at Embakassi. Having successful sports teams in Nairobi is beneficial to city because it can help generate employment for youth.

Once the club has reclaimed its land, they can use it to build facilities such as playing fields, gyms, social halls each of which can be rented out to generate money for the club. Remember that Gor Mahia now occasionally uses gym facilities that are owned by Mathare United and pays Mathare a handosme amount for the use of those facilities.

The point here is that Gor Mahia will have to start thinking of creative ways to raise revenue for them to be competitive with the best.

Summary

By modernizing the way the club is run from a business standpoint and from a technical standpoint, the club can start to close the gap on the top African teams especially Egyptian teams. And since Kenya is doomed to face Egyptian teams in the first round every two years or so, we have no choice but to work towards that goal unless we are content with a swift first round exit.

What are the fans views on where the club must go from here ?


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12 Comments.

  • Jakoyo says:

    i can’t agree more…..tactically our teams are simply inferior…..a lot has to be done and that also means bringing foreign players to our clubs.

  • Dan says:

    I believe the CAF tourney is still beyond our depth. This is partially due to financial constraints. If you see teams that are excelling in the CAF cups like TP Mazembe, Zamalek, Esperence etc they all have financial stability which enables them to get the best players and also have robust academies. Even the clubs in West Africa lack this and that’s why the club tourney is mostly a North Africa affair. West Africans come in during the national team tourneys where most , if not all, players are drawn from Europe.
    Like someone said let’s first conquer CECAFA then we aim Africa, but there is no harm in competing against the best in Africa even if we fall short. You aim for the sky but find yourself on the moon.
    On officiating during the ENNPI match it did not warrant what some of our fans (not sure they are fans) resorted to. Vandalising some of the stadium assets (Citizen billboards and the gate). I thought we ha grown that. Even if it PES (Post Election Stress) we need to be civil elsse even the little remaining we can miss. We literally need to attract more than one sponsor and this will only be possible if we behave in a peacefull way. Some of the uncivil behaviuor on the terraces affect the performance of the players in the field.
    At least Loga has now realized that players like Wiper (Mutiso) can add some punch to the game as they have more to prove than the more established players. Now we can try the Nigerian as well.
    All the best for the Ulinzi Top 8 game. I have a feeling we will win and meet Thika Utd to settle last year’s score

  • Bill Wabz says:

    A great article it is, our soka managers are the hinderance to our football growth when an office sacks a coach of Koops calibre a man who had transformed a team from a relegation to a title contender one can only read luck of direction, Sianga was starting something at Gor but our clueless officials neva gave him a chance, we always say game yetu imegrow but our soka managers live in the past n until they start living today things wont change quickly

  • Jakoyo says:

    Brilliant article, the best i have ever read in years.

    Here are quick wins for gor mahia….1. Review the business model of gor mahia 2. Instil James siangaa as director of football 3. Source for more corporate sponsors to augment ‘ the president tuzo’ deal 4. Start recruiting foreign talents for immediate success 5. Target east and central club champions. 6 target the champions league at least quarter final stage. 7. Diversify revenue base as you develop fresh talent…..

    This things are doable but we must prioritise in the order I have proposed.

  • Samwel Gor says:

    Brilliant idea. Kenyans are only good at talkin but not making follow-ups to their brilliant thoughts. Channel the advice correctly to the right authority. I bliv it will serve Sirkal a great deal.

  • Joe Riaga says:

    @# 1 Dan how can you say CAF is beyond our depth even after watching Soafapaka go far in 2011. Heck tanzanian and rwandan teams are advancing. With this attitude I guess we will not be able to beat Tanzanian and Rwandan teams in CECAFA.
    The team just needs to style up and modernize and become accountable as this article describes.

  • fred odhiambo says:

    how else will we beat teams with bigger budgets and so called big names without first improving on how we play and approach big games??Playing well is never enough…at the end of the day its the scoreline that really matters!!
    we must improve our overall performance and how we go about things if we hope to do well this season.so far the team has been pedestrian to say the least and the coach must come up with a system to turn things around sooner rather than later.am wth riaga@4 above on the way forward.lets not sugarcoat an average performance please!!!

  • Pod Antie says:

    I’ve alws asked for modernization. That’s the way to go

  • Dan says:

    @6 Joe Riaga if you look at the support APR has from the government and their President that’s what we luck in Gor. A few years ago they came here and beat Tusker and in that team there wee some four very good Brazilian players supported by a world class coach. Moving over to TZ, the type of organization and resources Azam, Yanga and Simba have we can only dream in Kenya. Ask the former Sofapaka coach now in Azam. At Gor even attracting sponsorship (for such a big brand) is proving a problem. And the worse thing is that some fans still dream that with our meager gate collection and handouts we can run the club. This is 2013 and things have changed. Teams like city STARS WITH A GOOD SPONSORSHIP CAN GO FAR AND SO ARE THE OTHER TEAMS. So let’s get our house stable, conquer CECAFA as we try to compete with the best in Africa.
    Sofapaka went far in CAF but where is the consistency, they are not even able to qualify locally to represent the country. Lookk at Esperence which we beat in ’87 , they are perennially in the CAF champions league money bracket while we struggle to go beyond the first outing.
    All the same we must continue trying since even the UEFA champs league has it’s owners while the rest just escort the Barcas, Real, Bayern, ManU etc

  • Ronald Ngala says:

    I fully agree with the writer of this article moreso on the best way to propell Gor Mahia into the next level or rather to have the club reach the current level of its peers i.e. el mereikh of sudan, zamalek of egypt, simba of tanzania e.t.c.
    The most basic thing to do at the moment is to first of all change or modernize the constitution. All the posts as currectly constituted are not neccessary but at the same time allow me to also make a clarification that the officials are not under any payments be it in terms of allowances or salaries. In the contrary these posts were created so that the occupants could contribute money to run the club’s daily operations, something which has turned out to be counter productive because one will look for the best opportunity possible refund what he/she had used earlier leading to what I would term as mismanagement.
    Enppi for example is a club which is relatively very rich. They have two floodlite training grounds (natural grass and artificial tuff,a 25,000 seater main stadium for their matches and a running youth program.

  • Joe Riaga says:

    Ngala good post.
    You are an official. Can you please tell us what is hindering the club from modernizing its constitution ? We are stuck in the 1960s. We will never progress unless we modernize

  • ODUOR12 says:

    The weakest link in K’galo is the Executive Committee, nay EXECUTIVE COMMUNITY WHICH BRINGS ABOUT EXECUTIVE CONFUSION.
    1.I take issue with the comment that some bloggers “cannot even run an under 13 year old club.”That is neither here nor there since it is our duty to point not to accept rudimentary failures.And if you cannot pay winning bonuses then you are telling the players to lose games.We are very lucky that our players simply staged a sit in for starters.
    2.Apart, from the corruption at the gate,Why give Kango/SSMB 20% of gate collections as stadium hire fees (1M at one instance) while Mathare United pays kshs.25,000 per game.
    3.Are officials raising any monies from merchandizing, and why has it taken them long to sort out the replica jersey saga which can raise funds for the club.EC is incompetent
    4.Last year I said that with Nyamweya and these officials there will be no announcement of GATE COLLECTIONS. Ticketmaster used to faithfully give figures after every match. WHY HAS THIS STOPPED?
    5.An official may lack money but have ideas. Rachier has money but no (rather lacks the will) to implement IDEAS.The rest of the EC lacks both money and the will to implement idea.WHY? ALL ARE IN GMFC FOR PERSONAL BENEFIT
    See R Ngala’s post on 12/04/2013
    “In the contrary these posts were created so that the occupants could contribute money to run the club’s daily operations, something which has turned out to be counter productive because one will look for the best opportunity possible refund what he/she had used earlier leading to what I would term as mismanagement.”

    Finally I second Mwakio’s statements that the entire EC should be investigated by the Ethics & Anti-corruption Commission.