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Stories, ideas and commentary about Gor Mahia FC

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The Status of Gor Mahia land in Embakassi

Back in the early 1990s, President Daniel arap Moi gave both Gor Mahia and AFC leopards adjacent peices of land at Kasarani in which to build a club-house and a training ground. Both clubs dilly dallied and the land was quickly grabbed and sold off by a well connected bigwig. Both clubs then pleaded with Moi to give them alternate pieces of land. Moi obliged and gave both clubs land, this time at Embakassi. Twenty five years on, the club has done nothing with the land. For years not much was known about the status of the land. The last reliable report about the land was back in 2008 when club officials said they could not develop the land because it was occupied by squatters. The club officials have maintained a studious silence about the status of the land. This has left fans wondering what exactly is the status of the land. Was it grabbed again? Was it sold off by unscrupulous officials?

The picture is beginning to be a little clearer thanks to research by fans who have uncovered useful information. Most notably a fan, Okil Kamaloka was able to dig up the title deed which still indicates that the piece of land belongs to the club.

Images provided by Okil Kamaloka

The location of Gor Mahia’s plot
Image courtesy of Marcel Byron

 

A previous report by Odindo Ayieko back in 2009  indicated that the land title deed number was LR9042/560

Former Club Chairman Erastus Okul spoke of the difficulty of claiming the land at the time.

“We even managed to get a title deed but now it seems it will be even more difficult to get hold of it now that squatters have put up houses there. The squatters claim they bought the land, yet they have no documents to support their argument. But they say they are not moving from there either.” said former Gor Mahia chairman, Erastus Okul.

Gor Mahia spends tens of thousands of shillings to train at Camp Toyoyo everyday and tens of thousands more to rent office space. All this is money that the club can save if they develop their land and build a training ground and a clubhouse.

 

Thanks Sonko and Namwamba but Kogalo must do better

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By Monday April 16, only two days before Kogalo were to play against Supersport United Gor Mahia still had not obtained tickets nor visas. It took the geneosity of Nairobi governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko to save the day when he donated 30 tickets. This after Sports minister Mike Achesa had refused to facilitate tickets. Then the intervention of  Ababu Namwamba (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) enabled K’Ogalo to obtain Visas. Still it was too late to save the day for Ephrem Guikan and Tuyisenge who both missed the trip because their work permits did not meet the criteria required by the South African consulate.

Gor Mahia officials have known for over a month that they would require South Africa visas. And fans have been posting online and in social media that previous Kenyan teams have had difficulty getting such visas. In fact the Kenya women’s youth team once camped at the South Africa embassy after the South African embassy started to make things difficult for their travel.

Yet despite all the advance notice, no one in the Executive Committee saw it fit to start working on obtaining Visas and tickets. Had it not been for Namwamba,  who likes sports and a Nairobi governor (Sonko) who is wealthy enough to donate tickets, Gor Mahia would have been disqualified from the 2018 Confederations cup and possible barred from competing in 2019.

So Kogalo fans must thank Sonko for his generosity and Namwamba for coming to the rescue of the club. But Kogalo fans must demand better from the Chairman. How is it possible that he has been in power since 2008 a but has never seen it fit to change the constitution so the club is run by competent people? And how is it that Ludovick Aduda keeps getting appointed as CEO yet he has not proven competent? One wonders what qualifies him to be the club CEO and what if any accomplishments he has achieved.

For years the club fans  have asked for a competent person to be appointed as General Manager. This person should be in charge of the day to day affairs of the club including ticketing, visas, air-tickets, matchday tickets, accounting and so forth. Eventually the club can expand and start appointing another person to perform tasks like marketing the club, pursuing sponsorships and so forth. This person should be on a performance contract. The more money he brings into the club, the more money he should be paid. Let an established firm like KPMG perform the recruiting and hiring of these individuals.

Gor Mahia has lost several international matches due to self inflicted errors. This is because our system of elections does not yield the best candidates. Its time to create a progressive constitution where competent people are hired to run the club. An independent body like KPMG should interview and hire these people. Left to Rachier, he will likely appoint Ludovick Aduda again.

Kogalo was lucky this time that Sonko and Namwamba came to the rescue. If they continue like this then we might see worse during the group stage. Fans must now make their voices heard. We need competent people running the club.

Gor Mahia wasting merchandizing opportunities

Since Gor Mahia signed a sponsorship deal with Sportpesa, the club has released at least half a dozen different jersey designs. This means that by now, ardent Kogalo fans could have all six jersey designs in their closet or wardrobe.

 

Unfortunately the club is not taking advantage of these merchandizing opportunities.Most fans who purchase jerseys are still purchasing the old jerseys from 2010 which are made by enterprising businessmen and sold at River road or elsewhere.

If you attend a Kogalo match, you still see fans predominantly wearing these old jerseys.

Fans at Kericho Green stadium recently

And opportunities for merchandizing are limitless: Caps, pens, hats, Tshirts, calendars. Back 30 years ago, the club created a calendar to commemorate the continental triumph. Yours truly remembers remembers visiting many relatives who had this calendar plastered on their walls.

Club calendar for 1988

Calendars and other items can be made to commemorate various occassions such as when the club won the league unbeaten (1976 and 2015), when the club won the league after a 18 year hiatus (2013)  and so forth.

But it requires fans to be educated on where to buy jerseys such that the club benefits.

Kogalo are always facing intense competition from clubs in Tanzania, Zambia and South Africa for the services of key players. Which means the club should always be looking for opportunities to market the club’s merchandize.

Mr. Rachier please clarify the status of Gor Mahia land

Ambrose Rachier announced that the launch of Gomalotto will enable the team to raise far more funds than it can raise via sponsorship, membership or Harambees. The goal according to Rachier is to build a clubhouse, a stadium and an academy.

Mr. Rachier has been promising to build a stadium since he was first elected chairman in 2008. A noble goal indeed. But if the stadium is built, where will the stadium be built.

During the 1990s, then president Moi gave both Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards land on which to build a clubhouse and a training ground. The land was located near Kasarani stadium.

Gor Mahia officials of the time held a formal ceremony which in Luo tradition is called “Goyo Dala” which means creating a homestead. The officials even excitedly announced that the next ceremony would be “Goyo Ligala” which means breaking ground on the first home within the homestead. But nothing happened and the land was eventually grabbed by a political bigwig. Gor Mahia and AFC fans appealed to Moi again and he gave them both land at Embakassi. But again nothing was done with that land. It was not even fenced off. The most recent reports suggest that the land is occupied by squatters.

If Rachier is serious about his plan to build a clubhouse, a training ground or a stadium, he should clarify what the exact state of that land is.

Does the club have the proper title deed? and if not what happened to it.
Is it possible to evict the squatters? if the club does not have the wherewithal to evict squatters then a better idea would be to sell the land and instead purchase land in a location where the club can actually build.

 

Azam FC stadium in Dar es Salaam

Just having its own training ground will save the club colossal amounts of money. It was previously reported that Gor Mahia used to pay City stadium Ksh 10,000 per day to train at City stadium for only four hours. This means a training ground could save the club over Ksh 200,000 per month. It would also allow players to spend more time on the training ground which would further sharpen their skills. The training ground can also be rented out to other teams. A gym and a clubhouse can raise money for the club because space can be rented out for various functions. And if the club does eventually build a stadium, they could raise significant amounts unlike the current arrangements where stadiums sometimes take as much as 40% of the gate proceedings.

Thank you Jerim Onyango for nine years of excellence(In Pictures)


Jerim Onyango’s career at Gor Mahia appears to have come to and end. And it has been an illustrious career. Jerry “Jagoal” as he is popularly known, played for Gor Mahia for nine seasons (2008 to 2016).

He joined Gor Mahia from KRA in 2008 just when Gor Mahia started its recovery path from the doldrums. He immediately found his way into the starting line-up, taking the place of Jacktone Odhiambo who left to join Ulinzi.  Odhiambo had been a reliable custodian, but Jerim proved a better option. He had early success, helping Kogalo win the FKF cup in 2008
He would immediately establish himself as one of the top goalkeepers in the country. With Jerim between the posts, Gor Mahia improved from 8th place in 2008 to 5th place in 2009 before coming close to winning the league in 2010 and again in 2012. His first national team call up came in 2011. When the previous long serving captain Julius Owino left the club, Jerim was the natural choice to become captain due to his leadership abilities. Indeed he was voted captain by his team-mates for three years in a row.

When Kogalo finally won the league in 2013 after an 18 year hiatus, it was largely because they conceded only 15 goals, which was seven better than the next closest team. And Jerim was the focal point of Gor Mahia’s stingy defence with incredible save after incredible save. Indeed 2013 was his best year. It was the year he was voted KPL goalkeeper of the year and was the first choice goalkeeper for Harambee stars. So good was Jerim that he received overtures from arch rivals AFC Leopards who offered him a contract.

His only drawback among fans was his inability to save penalties. He would put those doubts to rest in dramatic fashion in January of 2014 in the opening round of the Africa champions league against US Bitam of Gabon. On that day Jerim saved two penalties in the run of play and two more penalties in the ensuing penalty shootout to steer Kogalo into the next round.

Jerim was the first choice goalkeeper throughout 2014. Though he lost his starting position in 2015, Jerim was still captain and the most dedicated player on the squad, encouraging players from the bench and in training while maintaining a positive attitude even when he was not getting playing time.

Having played for Gor Mahia for nine seasons, Jerim is probably the longest serving player the club has had in the new millenium. Players today rarely stay at the top for that long. The club record for most years is likely held by George Otieno “Solo” who stayed for 13 years. So Jerim is among the longest serving players. And he did so with distinction, dedication, discipline and excellence while providing good leadership.

He will now pursue a career in politics. In 2017, Jerim will run for Member of County Assembly(MCA) in his home area of Ugunja in Ugenya constituency. He has been doing the groundwork for the past several years by holding the Jerry Jagoal tournament every year. He deserves the support of Kenya football fans as a thank you for years of dedicated service. The sport of football will benefit from having people like Jerim in positions where the sport can benefit.

Jerim Onyango pictorial

As a student at Kamkunji secondary

 

Winning the KFF cup in his first season at the club

 

Swopping places with penalty specialist Ivo Mapunda

 

With governor Mutua, inspecting Machakos stadium before CECAFA 2013

 

 

After receiving KPL goalkeeper of the year 2013

 

One of the four penalties he saved against US Bitam

 

At the world cup in 2014 with Musa Mohamed and Kasaya

 

Arriving in Gabon 2014

A natural leader of men

 

Training in 2016

 

Mobbed by fans after retaining the league in 2014

 

Saying goodbye to coach Bobby Williamson in August 2014

 

Corallling an unruly fan at Awendo in 2014

 

With the Gor Mahia U19 team in 2015

 

At the funeral of Zablon Otieno “Pro”

With KPL trophy 2013

Training the youth

Jerry Jagoal tournament in Ugunja in 2016

 

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.

Profile

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.

 

 

Thank you to coach James Sianga

Legendary coach and former player James Aggrey Sianga passed away on Friday September-9-2016 after a long battle with diabetes.

Sianga was a founder player of this club when it was formed in 1968. He also played for national team for an incredible 12 years and is considered one of the best goalkeepers the country has ever produced. As a coach he coached the Kenya national team on numerous occasions. he coached various clubs in the country including Tusker and Re-Union.

Gor Mahia fans will remember him most for his stint as club coach in 2007 and 2008. It was he who brought a group of young players on boatd including Eric Masika, Anthony Akumu, Duncan Owiti and George Odhiambo. These players were the backbone of the youthful teams that finished second in the league in 2010 and 2012.  as well as winning the FKF cup in 2011 and 2012.

On behalf of gormahia.net aka Gor Mahia online supporters club, this author would like to thank Sianga for his good work over the years. May he rest in peace.

No choice now but to take security seriously

IDAC has rejected Gor Mahia’s appeal against the IDCC ruling that docked the club three points due to crowd trouble in the match against Tusker. The ruling now stands and Gor Mahia have gone from first to fourth position. Gor Mahia will also have to pay the costs associated with the appeal.

The IDCC ruling has proven that even if Gor Mahia are not the host team, they will still be held responsible for policing their own fans.  Above all things, the ruling shows that IDCC is now taking a no-nonsense stance against acts of hooliganism. Accordingly the club must now step up its game regarding match security.

This means properly trained and accredited stewards, additional police in the crowds as well as plain clothes policemen within the crowd. This is something chairman Ambrose Rachier promised in January yet was nowhere to be seen against Tusker.  Bhang smoking which is commonplace in matches and which leads to irrational fan behavior should be banned and bhang users should be arrested. As this column pointed out in January, significant portion of the Sportpesa sponsorship money should be allocated to security.

Fans must also police themselves. The primary culprit in the Tusker match is likely well known and should have been reported to the police by fans who know him.

The players are working hard in training and on the field to earn precious points in each game. Therefore a few unruly fans should not undo the hard work of the players. The club is also lucky to have signed a sponsorship after three years without a sponsor. Fan behavior could lead to cancelation of the sponsorship or refusal by Sportpesa to renew the deal when it expires.

But its up to the club to step up its security mechanisms.