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16 Dec 18

Will Gor Mahia celebrate again?

Gor Mahia will take on Nigerian champions Lobi Stars at Kasarani today, in a Africa champions League first round match. At stake is a place in the group stage.

The boys have an opportunity to make history. No Kenyan side has ever eliminated a Nigerian side in a continental tourney. And no Kenyan side has ever made to the group stage of the Africa champions league.

It will not be easy against Lobi Stars who are based in Makurdi, Benue state. They currently sit atop the league with 43 points, two ahead of their closest competitors Akwa United.  And since the league was suspended due to problems with FIFA, Lobi Stars were declared the representatives in this year’s champions league despite the fact that there were still 14 matches to play.

Nigerian teams typically make it to the group stage of this competition. Nothing less than that is expected from Lobi stars. They proved their mettle when they eliminated UMS de Loum of Cameroun by a score of 2-1 aggregate. Prior to that they had beaten Enugu Rangers 1-0 to lift the Nigerian Super cup.

Lobi stars are motivated to show Nigerians that they are worthy of playing in this event. Many Nigerians are unhappy  that Lobi stars were given the ticket to play in the champions league under controversial circumstances. They also want to redeem Nigerian football after the country lost a slot in the Champions league due to their recent under-performance.

Lobi stars was formed in 1981. They are sponsored by the state of Benue. They have only won the Nigerian league twice (1999 and 2018). The last time they participated in the Champions League was in 2000, and they reached the group stage. 

As such, Gor Mahia are far more experienced in this event. And their coach Solomon Ogbeide is well aware of Gor Mahia.

“Of course we know that Gor Mahia are a very big club from Kenya but the business…is the match on the field of play and Lobi Stars are also a big team,” he told the official Caf website.

Ogbede went on to insist that he is confident that his side is equipped to beat the Kenyan champions.

“We are not worried because we have all it takes to do well on the continent. We have the personnel in terms of players, sound administrators and we have the support of government and people of Benue State; but above all, we have God which is our major weapon.” he said

Like Nyasa Big Bullets, Lobi also is comprised of local players. They don’t have any foreigners. After winning the league, they strengthened their side by signing key performers from other Nigerian teams: Kelly Kester, Samuel Mathias, Nojeem Olukokun and Sikiru Alimi .

Alimi who joined from Warri Wolves, is one of their key performers and will be looked upon for goals. He scored one of the goals against UMS de Loum.

The other dangerous player to watch is striker Samad Kadiri. He scored the winner when Lobi lifted the Super cup three weeks ago.

Nigeria does not have any high altitude venues. To deal with the high altitude of Nairobi, they decided to arrive as late as possible.

“We have heard a lot about Kenya and we are making effort to ensure that we are not affected by the high altitude there. We know that the game will come up in Nairobi and that it will hold at the Moi International Stadium in Kasarani which is a grass pitch,” said their Chairman Mike Idoko.

Gor Mahia for their part will be hoping to build on their overhwelming victory over Zoo Kericho a week ago.  It has not been a happy few weeks for Gor Mahia having lost to Bandari in the league opener and lost to Kariobangi Sharks in the Super cup.

But the arrival of Hassan Oktay as the new coach has rejuvenated the players who are eager to impress.

Skipper Haron Shakava who scored one of the penalties that propelled Gor Mahia to this round is certain that Kogalo will put in a good show.

“We are ready for the game,” he said adding, “we want to win at home with a big margin so that we head to Nigeria with a good result in order to qualify for the group stage. This is our main focus to up our achievement from last season where we reached the Confederation Cup last 16.” said Shakava to the Nation

There is plenty of video of Lobi Stars available online so one hopes that coach Oktay has done his homework.

The return of Jacque Tuyisenge if fully fit would be a huge boost to Kogalo whose strike force has been blunt. Much will be expected from new signing Butambuze who has been possibly the best player on the side this season.

In midfield, Francis Kahata will likely be unavailable. Kenneth Muguna is injured. The burden of creating chances will fall on Samuel Onyango, Humprey Mieno and George Odhiambo. Ernest Wendo will anchor the midfield.

The match will be officiated by centre referee Slim Belkhouas from Tunisia Slim assisted by compatriots Khalil Hassani and Jridi Faouzi as first and second assistant referees respectively. Nasrallah Jaouadi will be the fourth official.





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15 Dec 18

Yet again Kogalo players are on strike due to unpaid salaries.

Additional reporting from goal.com

With just two days before they take on Nigerian champions Lobi Stars, K’Ogalo have threatened to down tools over salaryGor Mahia players have now vowed to skip their Caf Champions League match against Lobi Stars of Nigeria on Sunday.

The players, who have always staged such go slows ahead of Kenyan Premier League matches, have now promised to stage a huge strike that will awake the office. “We might skip the match and give them a walkover. This is becoming too much. Can you imagine staying without salary and they want you to perform on the pitch?” a top player, who sought anonymity told Goal.com

Goal also understands that the players were summoned to meet club chairman Ambrose Rachier after their training session on Thursday at the Camp Toyoyo Stadium but nothing tangible came out of the meeting.When reached for comment, Gor Mahia CEO Omondi Aduda admitted that the club was yet to pay the players and that the issue was being sorted out. We are aware of that and it is not a story to write about.

.”We want positive coverage now that we are having a huge match coming up and those players must understand that we are looking for money to pay them and should be patient and must also remain focused for the match on Sunday.”Aduda also admitted that they are yet to receive an official note from their rivals on when they are arriving in the country for the fixture. “They are yet to talk to us, so we wait, maybe they want to sneak in but we are ready to take them on.”


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14 Dec 18

Kenyan legend Dennis Oliech is interested in a return to active football. He has expressed an interest in joining either Gor Mahia, Sofapaka or Mathare United.

“Currently I have three options that include Gor Mahia, Sofapaka and Mathare United. I will for sure play in the Kenya Premier League this season. I am itching to make a return and I am confident that by January, I will have nailed a deal to mark my return,” Oliech told Milele FM Sports.

Oliech who is no doubt the best striker Kenya has ever produced has been training and playing in grassroots tournaments for the past year or so. Earlier in 2018, he was reported to be headed to South Africa to join a top PSL side.

Oliech who is 33 is, played in Qatar and for several teams in the French top tier including Nantes, Ajaccio and Auxerre for whom he played in the European champions league.

He has not played active football in a long time. It remains to be seen what he has left in the tank. Coach Hassan Oktay will be the best judge of that. Oliech is also eyeing a return to the national team with a view to playing at AFCON 2019.

I am yet to retire; I can come back to Harambee Stars. First of all, let me return to the local league and be the top scorer, then I will be good to return to the national team. I know I am good and I will score goals.”

Oliech never played for Gor Mahia. But two of his brothers did: Steve Okumu who played for Kogalo in the late 1990s and Andrew Oyombe whose stint at Gor Mahia was around 2007 and 2008.

Asante Kotoko coach says Ghanaians only know Gor Mahia

Asante Kotoko coach Charles Akonnor says he knows nothing about his opponents Kariobangi Sharks as the only team that Ghanaians know about is Gor Mahia.

“I have not heard about Kariobangi Sharks before. In Ghana, we only know about Gor Mahia,” Akonnor told reporters on Thursday.”

Gor Mahia is indeed a big name in West Africa especially among the older generation, many of whom remember the club’s continental exploits in the 1980s.

Gor Mahia beat the Ghana national team in a friendly in 2011 by a score of 2-1. The goals came from Ezekiel Odera who scored from Moses Odhiambo’s cross and Collins Okoth.

The loss left the Ghana coach shell shocked and wondering how he would explain to Ghanaians back home that their national team lost to Gor Mahia.



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13 Dec 18

Rwandese striker Jacque Tuyisenge, who has been out on injury list, resumed training on Tuesday December 11. He is confident that he will be at full fitness by the time Gor Mahia play Lobi Stars on Sunday December 16 and will be available for selection.

“I hope to return to full fitness soon, I am almost there. I am not sure if I will be able to play [against Zoo Kericho] on Wednesday, but certainly I will be available on the weekend for the Lobi Stars clash in Champions League,” the said to the Rwanda Times.

Tuyisenge said he sustained an injury on his left foot in November during Amavubi’s 2-2 draw against Central African Republic in the qualifiers for the Afcon 2019 finals in Huye.

He then aggravated the injury when he played against Nyasa Big Bullets when he left the game after only fifteen minutes. A return to full fitness would be a huge boost for Kogalo. However should he return too quickly he may aggravate the injury again.



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12 Dec 18

Gor Mahia face an uphill battle as they take on Nigerian League Leaders Lobi Stars on December 14. Its a similar situation to 38 years ago, the last time Kogalo faced a Nigerian team. This is the only time Gor Mahia has ever played a Nigerian side. It was in the second round of the 1980 Africa cup of champions, the predecessor of today’s Africa champions league. The team they faced was the then Nigerian champions, Bendel Insurance.

Background

These were among the players who faced off with Bendel Insurance


1979 Africa Player of the year voting

  Player Club Country
1. Thomas N´KONO          CanonYaoundé Cameroon
 2. Adolf ARMAH            Hearts of Oak Ghana
 3. Kerfalla BANGOURA      Horoya Conakry Guinea
 4. Abdoulaye CAMPAORÉ     AS Bobo-Dioulasso Upper Volta
 5. Nahashon OLUOCH       Gor Mahia Kenya
 6. KIYIKA  Tokodi CS Imana            Zaire
 7. Felix AGBONIFO         Bendel Insurance Nigeria
 8. Pascal MIEZAN          ASEC Abidjan Cote’d Ivoire
 9. Muda LAWAL             IICC Shooting Stars Nigeria


1980 Africa Champions cup

Goalkeeper Dan Odhiambo (far left) during a national team training session with Mahmoud Abbas

Aftermath


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12 Dec 18

Gor Mahia’s new coach Hassan Oktay started his career on a solid note as his charges beat Zoo Kericho 4-0 at Kasarani on Wednesday.

Ephrem Guikan once again silenced his critics, scoring twice in the first half. Samuel Onyango added a third as Gor Mahia led 3-0 at halftime. New signing Erisa Sekisambu scored the fourth goal.

Additional Reporting from the Nation

Gor Mahia on Wednesday evening prepared for Sunday’s Caf Champions League clash against Nigeria’s Lobi Stars with a convincing win as they thrashed a hapless Zoo Kericho 4-0 in a one-sided SportPesa Premier League clash.Crucially, this result attained at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani in Nairobi was the Kenyan champions’ first league win of the season, coming three days after a 2-1 loss to high-flying Bandari at the Coast.

The result also marked new coach Hassan Oktay’s first win in charge at the helm, after being on the touchline for three games. “I am happy because my boys have shown they can play very well and score goals which is what football is all about. I know we can do more we will continue working hard so that we bring the best out of these quality group of players,” said Oktay.

Ivorian Ephrem Guikan, who is surprisingly unavailable to play against the Nigerians at the weekend as he was not registered to play in continental matches, helped himself to a brace in the opening half.Kenya international Samuel Onyango and new signing Erisa Ssekisambu also scored a goal each.The lively Guikan scored the first goal of the game in the opening minute and then had to wait for 15 minutes for his next which came via the penalty spot.The spot kick was awarded after Francis Mustafa found the highflying Onyango with a slide rule pass inside the danger zone.

The opportunity left the Kenya international with a goal scoring opportunity and as he prepared to pull the trigger, he was brought down by Sindano Sabiri’s trailing leg.Guikan stepped up and easily converted the resultant penalty past Ugandan Martin Elungat who was guarding the visiting goalmouth.Showing a rich vein of form which could perhaps be of interest to Harambee Stars coach Sebastian Migne, Onyango turned from provider to scorer six minutes to the break.

Formerly at Ulinzi Stars, he rushed to meet a 50-50 ball before Elungat and expertly chipped it into the far right corner.By then Gor Mahia were cruising as Zoo Kericho – who lost experienced duo Micheal Madoya and Nicholas Kipkurui to Tusker and K’Ogalo earlier this month – struggled to create chances. Ssekisambu then scored past his compatriot for the final goal of the match.


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12 Dec 18

Gor Mahia will be seeking to end their poor run when they take on Zoo Kericho at Kasarani on Wednesday.

Skipper Shakava admits that the loss against Bandari was a wake up call.

“The opening day loss has made us realise that playing in the SPL this year is going to be tough. We must work even harder,” he said to the Standard.

Shakava, however, said they are not under any pressure going into today’s match. “We will just take it easy and give our best. Putting ourselves under pressure will be detrimental.

He however says that the team will be motivated.

“Furthermore, playing under a new coach is also big motivation for the players where everyone wants to impress.” he concluded.

Coach Oktay has named a line-up which includes the much maligned strikers Francis Mustafa and Ephrem Guikan leading the attack. Its an opportunity for both of them to redeem themselves in the eyes of fans who are concerned wit the blunt attack. Making his debut will be new signing Pascal Ogweno.

Gor Mahia XI: Boniface Oluoch, Philemon Otieno, Shafik Batambuze, Haron Shakava, Pascal Ogweno, Ernest Wendo, Humphrey Mieno, Francis Kahata, Samuel Onyango, Francis Mustafa, Ephrem Guikan.

Reserves: Frederick Odhiambo, Charles Momanyi, Cercidy Okeyo, Benard Ondiek, Boniface Omondi, Erisa Ssekisambu, Nicholas Kipkirui.



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11 Dec 18

Gor Mahia have apparently been sufficiently impressed by Hassan Oktay and have confirmed him as head coach. It was previously announced that he would be on a 3-month probation. Oktay was known as a tactical expert despite having only coached at lower tiers in the UK.

The report on goal.com suggests that Oktay has agreed to a 2 year contract. he has been leading training sessions at Camp Toyoyo for the past few days. He will now officially take charge. He will be in charge as Gor Mahia take on Kericho Zoo. His first major assignment is a tall order as Gor Mahia take on Lobi Stars of Nigeria in the first leg second round of the 2018-2019 Africa champions league. He will immediately be tasked with sharpening the blunt striking force that has scored only three goals in the past five games.


Karim Nizigiyimana may return

Burundian right back Karim Nizigiyimana resumed training with Gor Mahia one week after he was axed. He has impressed the technical bench enough that they are considering bringing him back. To make way for him, it has been reported that the Ivorian Ephrem Guikan will go on loan.




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10 Dec 18

Despite a poor start to the 2018-2019 season, interim coach Zedekiah Otieno “Zico” says its not time to press the panic button yet. Harun Shakava also concurred with the coach.

In a post match interview, Shakava averred that it was only the first game. He says the team played well and created numerous chances in the second half. But good goalkeeping saved the dockers.

Shakava also faulted Bandari for their time-wasting tactics which he considered unsportsmanlike.

Nevertheless Shakava concluded that the team will learn from their mistakes and correct them before the next game which is slated for Wednesday.

Coach Zico for his part says the first game is not the time to start discussing the title.

“It is too early to start talking about the league title. Last season we lost over six matches and still went on to win the title. I can only admit that we have started badly which is not good for any defending champions in any league but we must now focus ahead and start winning matches from Wednesday.” he told goal.com

However if all Kogalo did was lose this game then fans would not panic. The reason some fans are already in panic mode is because there has been a precipitous decline in Kogalo’s performance. It started at the end of last season when Gor Mahia went on a losing streak.

They then went to Merseyside to play Everton and their performance was abysmal compared to the show they displayed against Everton when the two sides met in Dar es Salaam. Then came the loss to Kariobangi Sharks. Even the win over Big Bullets of Malawi was far from impressive. To some it appears the players have lost their motivation. To most however, the club simply has no strikers. Coach Zico concurs.

“We lost because we failed to score from the many chances we created and ended up conceding very cheap goals. It is unfortunate that a big team like Gor Mahia can give away such goals at this level,” he went on

“I don’t think so, we have the same players as from last season and remember we scored from a striker and not a defender.

“That will not be a good excuse. Let’s accept that we were not clinical upfront and we deserve to improve on the same as many teams will now want to come hard on us and win because they are playing against the champions.

Zico went on to say that the team cannot use the absence of Tuyisenge as an excuse.

“I can only admit that we are missing Tuyisenge (Jacques). He was our top scorer from last season but what can you do, if the player is injured? Tuyisenge is out and we must build a team without him as we wait for him to return. We miss him yes, but must always remain focused and use the players that we have.”

This is especially so because Tuyisenge may also be on his way out.


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8 Dec 18

Gor Mahia’s 2018-2019 season started on a sour note as they went down 2-1 to Bandari at Mbaraki on Saturday. New signing Nicholas Kipkirui scored for Kogalo.

Additional reporting from the Nation

Champions Gor Mahia’s title defence got underway on a losing note as they went down 2-1 away to Bandari in their opening SportPesa Premier League match at the Mbaraki Stadium, Mombasa on Saturday.

William Wardi and David Kingatua gave the dockers a 2-0 lead, before new signing Nicholas Kipkirui pulled a goal back for K’Ogalo.

However, it was not enough as Bandari, who finished in second place last season, held on for precious points leaving the champions to lick their wounds in a packed match watched by among others, Kenya Ports Authority managing director Daniel Mamduku.

The dockers enjoyed the early exchanges, while Gor Mahia, who were playing a few hours after arriving from Malawi, took control of the last quarter of the game when they literally camped at Bandari’s goalmouth in search of an elusive equaliser.

William Wadri scored the match opener for Bandari on the stroke of halftime via a firm header from a well weighted Yema Muama cross.

David Kingatua made it 2-0 in the 55th minute when he pounced on back pass by Philemon Otieno to goalkeeper Boniface Oluoch to score from close range.

Gor substitute and new signing Nicholas Kipkurui, who had just come in for Francis Mustapha, scored the consolation goal for Gor Mahia in the 75th minute from a goalmouth melee.

“We dominated the game but missed several clear scoring chances, while Bandari created only three chances two of which they scored,” new Gor Mahia Turkish coach Hassan Oktay said after the match

Bandari team manager Wilson Ogutu was however happy with the results, saying that they will build on this performance to ensure they achieve their target of wining the league.

“We played as a team with players following the coaches instruction to the letter. We just want to build on this going forward,” Ogutu said.



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