Remembering Zack Mbori in Pictures
"Home of the mighty Kogalo...."
With skipper Jerim Onyango having finally decided to hung his gloves and his boots, its time to take a trip down memory lane to remember the best players ever to man the posts for Gor Mahia Kogalo.
Link Category: Gor Mahia Stories
2015 had been a glorious year for Gor Mahia. Besides 1987, it will go down as one of the most memorable season’s in the club’s history. It was going to be difficult to emulate the success of 2015. However, Kogalo fans were still hopeful for a successful season in 2016.
It was not to be however as the 2016 season will mostly be remembered as a letdown season with numerous self-inflicted wounds.
The season started on a promising note with Gor Mahia touring Ethiopia and Sudan and beating all the local teams including Al Hilal, the Sudanese champions, who have reached the group phase of the Africa champions league numerous times in recent years and who had beaten Gor Mahia 5-0 in a friendly match at Nyayo stadium in 2009.
Prior to beating Al Hilal, Gor Mahia had beaten St George of Ethiopia on penalties. They won the St George cup which was to celebrate the 80th Anniversary of St George’s.
It was a notable achievement because Gor Mahia were playing away to hostile fans and still won. It was also notable because St George had just won the Ethiopian league three times in a row. And in 2013, when ENPPI of Egypt eliminated Gor Mahia in the CAF Confederation cup, they went on to lose to St George.
With such an impressive pre-season record, it looked as if Gor Mahia were on their way to another successful season and might actually play better in continental football.
Gor Mahia had gone three seasons without a title sponsor and still won three succesive league titles. Finally in January of 2016, Gor Mahia landed a title sponsor for the third time in the club’s history. Sportpesa, the betting firm, stepped forward to sponsor Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards. In addition, Crown Beverages was announced as a secondary sponsor for the club. (It is not clear what happened to this deal). Elliott Breads finally got exclusive rights to distribute Gor Mahia bread, promising bigger returns then the previous distributor. And Gor Mahia launched other initiatives such as Gor Mahia water, Goma lotto in addition to the Gor Mahia SACCO that was launched months earlier.
And in February, Gor Mahia SACCO launched its first bus.
Late in February, Gor Mahia signed a kitting deal with Italian company Legea worth Ksh 15 million. It seemed that Gor Mahia’s problems would be a an issue of the past.
All this was notwithstanding the fact that certain Kogalo players had not reported for pre-season training. Geoffrey Walusimbi, Khalid Aucho and Innocent Wafula were all still holidaying in Uganda. And Wafula’s whereabouts were completely unknown as he had not contacted the club. By the time Gor Mahia played the Super cup against Bandari on February 16, neither Aucho nor Wafula had reported to camp despite ostensibly still receiving a monthly salary from the club.
Indiscipline would further take its toll on the club during the second leg when Collins Okoth “Gattuso” fell out with the coach and was sidelined for several matches.
Aside from missing players, Gor Mahia had also lost all their leading scorers from the 2015 season: Michael Olunga left for Sweden. Meddie Kagere declined to renew his contract, holding out for a better deal and Ali Abondo left for South Africa after having failed to convince the club to raise his salary.
Inspirational assistant coach and club legend Bobby Ogolla soon left the club to pursue the head coaching position at City stars. Frank Ouna, also an assistant coach soon followed him out, citing frustrations from the EC.
Prior to the end of the 2015 season, chairman Ambrose Rachier had negotiated a deal with Frank Nuttall in which the Scottish coach would take a significant pay cut which would basically halve his salary. But when Gor Mahia landed a title sponsor, Nuttall said that halving the salary was supposed to be a temporary measure until Gor Mahia found a sponsor and this insisted on receiving the full due from his contract as any self respecting coach would. However the Gor Mahia EC would have none of it. This despite the fact that Nuttall had steered the club to a superb season and looked set to repeat the same given the excellent pre-season that the club had just engaged in.
The net result was an internal squabble between chairman Rachier on one side and Nuttall on the other with each side refusing to give an inch. The infighting took its toll on the playing unit. And what looked like a promising season soon begun to take a nose-dive.
Matters came to a head when Frank Nuttall was held up at his hotel due to unpaid bills. Days later he announced to the dismay of fans that he had been fired by Rachier, prompting a firestorm by fans. Rachier and the EC would later backtrack. But by this time the damage was done.
With Rachier and Nuttall now not on speaking terms, what was previously a demoralized playing unit became undisciplined. Custodian Boniface Oluoch openly disrespected Nuttall prompting the coach to drop him from the starting line-up.
In February, Gor Mahia traveled to Mombasa to play Bandari in the 2016 super cup. Gor Mahia lost 0-1 and at the end of the match the players refused to pick up their runners up medals. Worse still, two players ended up in a police cell after engaging in a fist fight at the airport.
A successful tour of Ethiopia and Sudan was supposed to prepare Kogalo for their continental assignments. But with three key players missing the pre-season and with indiscipline creeping into the playing unit, things started to look grim. Also due to lack of attention from club officials, some key new signings were not registered for continental football including Jacque Tuyisenge, Francis Kahata and Luke Ochieng.
The combination of lack of player morale, infighting and indiscipline took its toll and Gor Mahia lost to CNaPS of Madagascar whom they had eliminated in 2015. Kogalo lost 1-2 at home and 0-1 away. Gor Mahia’s lone goal at Nyayo stadim came via a penalty converted by Enock Agwanda. By this time many fans had tuned out as evidenced by the paltry attendance for the match against CNaPS at Nyayo. Losing to a team Gor Mahia had eliminated in 2016 was a bitter pill to swallo
Gor Mahia started their league campaign on a sour note. There were three succesfive draws to start the league against Posta Rangers, Ulinzi and Chemelil Sugar. When Gor Mahia lost their 4th match to arch rivals AFC Leopards by a score of 0-1, matters finally came to a head. Coach Frank Nuttall finally decided that he had had enough and left without even informing the playing unit nor club officials. he would later surface at Zamalek of Egypt as an assistant coach to Alex McLeish.
Nuttall would later explain his reason’s for leaving
“As a director of football, I am not involved in hiring, releasing and disciplinary of players and assistant staff. This has affected the performance of the club,” Nuttall wrote to the club’s management. Other grievances cited by the Scott include unprocedural termination of his contract on February 4, a decision that was later revoked. “Lastly, the executive committee has continued to make negative and undermining comments in the media, including those relating to team selection. In the circumstances, I believe the club is no longer able to make my work and performance possible at the club,” he said.
On march 16, Brazilian José Marcelo Ferreira aka Ze Maria popularly known as Ze Maria was announced as the new head coach. By this time Gor Mahia were in 13th place in the league standings.
The arrival of Ze Maria seemingly rejuvenated the club for a brief period. Gor mahia ended the first leg winning 7 matches, losing one and drawing one.
For a moment, they scaled to the top of the standings only to be brought down to second place by a IDAC decision to deduct three points due to fan hooliganism. A moment of madness from some Kogalo fans would come back to haunt the club. It was an unprecedented decision given that no team had ever lost points due to hooliganism and Gor Mahia being the away team were not responsible for security on this particular day.
As the first half of the season came to an end, midfielder Khalid Aucho left for trials in Scotland, leaving a gaping hole in the midfield. Aucho had been one of the most pivotal cogs in the Kogalo setup for the past two years with his ability to win midfield battles and link up effectively with the attack. He had been voted KPL player of the month for May. His departure was felt as Kogalo started the second leg of the season with 5 draws and only two wins.
The mid-season transfer period saw the return of Rwandese striker Meddie Kagere who had left the club in December of the previous year. Gor Mahia also signed a Brazilian striker Thiago Silva who had previously played in Macao. Yet the Brazilian did not feature for the club as Gor Mahia had already reached the allowed quota of foreign players. Other mid-season acquisitions were Wellington Ochieng, Anthony Mbugua, Baron Jobita and veteran Crispin Odula who was touted as Aucho’s replacement. Odula who had previously been playing in the Finnish league, never featured in the Kogalo line-up.
To make matters worse, the ever indisciplined Collins Okoth Gattuso, fell out with coach Ze Maria who refused to field him in matches. This left Gor Mahia short-handed in the defensive midfield position.
Gor Mahia’s below par performance in the premier league carried over into the GoTV shield. After having dispatched lower tier sides Mahakama and Nairobi Stima 3-0 and 2-0 respectively, Gor Mahia succumbed to a shock 0-1 loss to Nzoia United who at the time were leading in the second tier league.
Things were not getting any better as assistant coach Mathew Ottamax fell out with coach Ze Maria and took his feud public posting incendiary comments against the coach on his social media pages.
““A blank firing coach decides to fire his goalkeeping coach…maybe this will solve his scoring problems! Mine is to say a BIG THANK YOU to Gor Mahia players, staff, the executive office and our loving fans for everything we achieved as a family during the three and a half seasons I was with you. I remain loyal to my Mother Club”
Both club chairman Ambrose Rachier and Ze Maria would later state that Ottamax was never fired. A few days later Ottamax resumed his duties as goalkeeping coach.
Gor Mahia hopes for silverware were further dashed when the U-19 team lost to Mathare United in the KPL U-19 finals.
In the meantime, a fight was brewing between the Gor Mahia Fans foundation and the club’s executive committee. The foundation had created the U-19 team in 2014 but the EC wanted the foundation to cede control of the U-19 team. As a result the U-19 team was starved of cash and fans often had to conduct impromptu harambees for the team.
“Some of the players have been forced to trek long distances to and from training sessions. It is very perplexing to see fans collecting money to offer something to the players after matches.
“Even today (Wednesday), very few players reported for training ahead of our match against Muhoroni Youth.” Said an official
Nevertheless Gor Mahia never gave up hope of catching league leaders Tusker. In October, Gor Mahia recorded an important 2-0 win over arch rivals AFC Leopards. It was the first time Kogalo had won the mashemeji derby since 2013. The goals came from Enock Agwanda who converted a cross from the left wing and Meddie Kagere who scored from the penalty spot.
Gor Mahia would win their next two matches against Mathare and Muhoroni Youth. Those wins would leave the 2016 KPL open until the 29th round. Gor Mahia now needed Tusker to trip up. If they did, the last match against Tusker would have been the decider of who wins the league. Unfortunately Tusker would win their round 29 match and seal the league title with one game left. Thus the last match against Tusker was a mere formality and Gor Mahia played with no motivation and ended up losing 0-1.
It is fair to say that being deducted three points cost Gor Mahia the league. Had they not been docked three points, they would still have motivation to win their last match. They would have put up a stronger fight and possible wrested the title from Tusker.
In the end, Gor Mahia finished 2016 with no notable trophy. The only trophies they won were in the pre-season tournaments in Sudan and Ethiopia.
Gor Mahia had not held elections since 2014. The long-awaited elections were finally held on December 11. Ambrose Rachier retained the Chairmanship, garnering 579 votes against Okech’s 220. Former Gor’s Secretary General Chris Omondi had 157 votes.
After a bitterly contested election, Rachier vowed to unite the club and implement a new constitution.
“My first duty will be to reunite all K’Ogalo fans and candidates. I know there are some divisions, but I intend to work closely with those who contested against me. My second task with my new committee will be to deal with our club’s constitution so that we can be compliant with the Sports Act. ”
The 2016 elections marked the first time three women were elected to leadership positions within the club. Sally Bolo (Treasurer), Judith Anyango (Organizing Secretary ) and Beryl Anyango (Deputy Organizing Secretary)
The second 2016 Youth Tourmanent was held in December at Camp Toyoyo. It was Gor Mahia’s last chance for silverware in 2016. It started on a sour note losing to Posta Rangers by a score of 2-1. The man who came back to haunt Gor Mahia U20 was one Ted Osok who used to be in the Gor Mahia youth setup but was dropped. Gor Mahia U20 then recovered to beat Ulinzi U20 5-1 and Muhoroni U20 1-0 thanks to a late goal. But their run came to an end when they lost 1-3 to Mathare U20, the same team that beat them in the finals of the August Tournament
Custodian Boniface Oluoch was the only Kogalo player in action as Kenya beat Liberia 1-0 in an international friendly. Eric Ouma was on the bench this time. Other Kogalo players
Liberia were coached by their former international James Debbah. It is the same Debbah who was in action against Harambee stars in a world cup qualifier at Nyayo stadium in 1989. On that occassion, Kenya beat Liberia 1-0 thanks to a well taken goal by Gor Mahia midfield ace, George Onyango Fundi.
Fundi was a brilliant midfield schemer who never appeared to be in a hurry when he had the ball. He was a brilliant passer with excellent technique. But he would suddenly accelerate, leave a defender for dead and unleash one of his powerful grass-cutters. And that is exactly what he did against Liberia in 1989 to give Harambee stars a 1-0 win. It is to this day the closest that Kenya has come to qualifying for the world cup. On the very last day of group play, Kenya was still in contention, needing an unlikely win against Egypt in Cairo.
But the reason fans will remember that match was the outstanding play of Gor Mahia and Harambee stars skipper Austin Oduor “Makamu”.
Coach Mohamed Kheri had assigned “Makamu” the difficult task of man marking Liberian legend George Weah. This is the same Weah who was later voted world player of the year while winning the European Champions league with AC Milan. And at the time Weah was already arguably the best striker in Africa. Prior to the match, local dailies were rife with stories about how Weah was about the shred the Harambee stars defence. Yet Makamu bottled Weah on that day and marked him out of the game.
In 1989, Gor Mahia were representing Kenya in the Africa cup winners cup. In the second round, they had eliminated Costa Do Sol of Mozambique 1-0 on aggregate. Thus in the quarter-finals they faced Liberian side LPRC Oilers which also happened to have James Debbah, the current Liberia coach.
Kogalo played rather poorly in the first leg at Nyayo stadium. Coach Jack Johnson who had led the team to victory in the Africa cup had recently resigned after going several months without pay.
After the match at Nyayo ended 0-0, LPRC Oilers players celebrated, removing their shirts and running up and down the field. Gor Mahia team manager David Ouma remarked at the time: “Oilers are inexperienced in African football and that is why they are celebrating prematurely”. Oilers apparently did not understand that Gor Mahia had an excellent away record.
For the return leg in Monrovia, the KFF recruited Harambee stars coach Mohamed Kheri to coach Kogalo given the absence of Jack Johnson.
Ouma’s prediction came true. Oilers had indeed celebrated to early. Gor Mahia won the return leg 3-1 to advance to the semi-finals. Striker Peter Dawo who had been experiencing a goal drought at the time, came back to life, scoring two goals. Oilers were shocked.
Harambee stars continued their revival under coach Stan Okumbi by beating Liberia 1-0.
Match report courtesy of goal.com
Stanley Okumbi and Harambee Stars extended their unbeaten run to eight matches after seeing off Lone Stars on Friday
Speedy winger Paul Were scored a controversial goal as Harambee Stars extended their unbeaten run to eight matches after downing Liberia in a friendly on Tuesday.
The former AFC Leopards winger latched onto a through ball, though from an offside position, to beat Liberian keeper Tony Songo, with a low ball. Liberia officials complained bitterly on decision by Kenyan referee Andrew Juma to allow the goal to stand and even threatened to walk out of play.
It was not the first incident that irked the Lone Stars. In the first half, Joackins Atudo committed a foul inside the box but the referee could not award a penalty. Kenya coach Stanley Okumbi made four changes from the squad which played against Mozambique by going for a three-pronged attack with Michael Olunga in front as Paul Were and Eric Johanna played from the flanks.
Kenya started on a high note launching attacks minute after minute but their efforts never bore any fruits into the breather. In the 14th minute, Ayub Timbe picked the ball from the centre beating defenders bit his shot missed the target. Michael Olunga, then combined well with Paul Were ten minutes later but Liberia defenders Sa Nyuma and Prince Jetto stood tall to clear the dangers.
Kenya did not rest and almost scored in the 40th minute when a corner from Paul Were was blasted wide by Michael Olunga. That was just a minute after the Lone Stars were denied an open penalty after a foul committed by Joackins Atudo.
From the breather, Kenya seemed energized and were out to beat their rivals and Okumbi’s substitutions made an impact in the team. Simon Mbugua, Anthony Akumu, Eric Ouma and Calvin Odongo were brought in to rest Joackins Atudo, skipper Victor Wanyama, Abud Omar and Ayub Timbe respectively in the opening minutes of the second half.
The energy saw Paul Were surge past Liberia defenders in the 55th minute to grab the lone goal for Harambee Stars. The Greece-based winger’s goal was however, disputed by the vistors, who insisted that it had come from an offside position.
Liberia settled down in the match dominating remaining minutes but could not secure an equalizer. Anthony Lambo, David Tweng, Falla Sheriff and Kemon Kamara crisscrossed the field in search of a goal to no avail.
Okumbi is now counting eight matches unbeaten having whipped Mozambique last week in another friendly.
Boniface Oluoch (GK), Joackins Atudo, David Owino, Brian Mandela, Abud Omar, Victor Wanyama, Osborne Monday, Ayub Timbe, Paul Were, Eric Johanna, Michael Olunga
David Okello [GK], Erick Ouma, Harun Shakava, Robinson Kamura, Anthony Akumu, Amos Ekhalie, Jesse Were, Cavin Odongo, Amos Nondi, Victor Majid, Cliff Miheso, Simon Mbugua
Sad news yet again as another Kogallo legend. This time it is John Owiti Otieno “Hatari”. Hatari passed away in a road accident near Kericho. Not only is he a club legend, but he is one of the original players of the club, having joined at its formation in 1968. He played in central defence.
Hatari who hails from Ranjala location in Ugenya, Siaya County had been returning to Nairobi after having attended the funeral of James Sianga. Hatari was one of the key organizers for the late Sianga’s funeral arrangements.
He spoke highly of his former team-mate. During the fund raising of the late Sianga at Railway club, Hatari caused prolonged laughter when he said Sianga was now involved in active football administration in heaven. He was also one of the keynote speakers at Sianga’s funeral.
Hatari was one of the original members of Gor Mahia. Along with Sianga, he started his football career in the early 1960s with Luo Union. He would then move to Kisumu Hotstars in 1967 before joining the newly formed Gor Mahia FC in 1968, again with Sianga. He stayed at Gor Mahia until late 1974 when he left to join Luo Union.
Former Gor Mahia midfield ace Zablon Otieno Osowo, popularly known as “Pro” is no more. He passed away on Friday Morning May 13. He had been undergoing treatment at Jamaa hospital in Buru Buru for Pneoumonia and a heart attack he had suffered hours earlier. Pro will be remembered firstly as one of the most dedicated players to play for Kogalo. He logged several years with the club. And this was during the club’s dark ages when it was constantly in the relegation zone and could barely make ends meet financially. And along with fellow Midfielder Dan Ogada, another very dedicated player, he is one of the most skillful players to play for the club in recent times. He mesmerized opponents and fans alike with deft touches and brilliant moves.
Rest In Peace
Zablon Otieno will be remembered as one of the most talented players ever to don the green Kogalo jersey. He will be remembered as an Eastlands legend. Surprisingly he was never called to the national team. He leaves behind a wife and three children. May be rest in peace.
Sports club Villa FC of Uganda have confirmed that they will play a friendly match against Gor Mahia on Wednesday. SC Villa Ivan Kakembo said Kogalo are expected to arrive on Tuesday.
“The Kenyans will jet in on Tuesday and we believe that this match will push us a long way in preparing our team for the CAF Confederations Cup tie against Sudan’s Khartoum Al Watani FC slated for February 13 in Sudan. The match will act as a fundraiser for the Sudan trip.” he said to Kawowo sports.
For Gor Mahia, it will be the third in a series of international friendlies against top tier sides after successful tours of Ethiopia and Sudan. It will be stern test against a team that finished second in the Ugandan league, only four points adrift of the eventual champions Vipers FC.
Wednesday, February 3
SC Villa vs. Gor Mahia – Nakivubo Stadium, 4:00PM
Fees: Ush. 5,000 (Ordinary) and Ush. 10,000 (VIP)
Villa, along with KCC and Express were for many decades the top teams in Uganda. Their best years on the local scene was between 1998 and 2004 when they won the Ugandan league a record seven times in a row. During this period, they also won the Uganda domestic cup six times.
On the continental scene, their best years were 1991 when they reached the Africa champions cup final and 1992 when they reached the CAF Cup final. The year 1991 was especially memorable for Villa as they eliminated Egyptian giants Al Ahli in the quarter-finals and then eliminated Nigerian giants Iwuannyanwu Nationale (now known as Heartland).
Interestingly, in 1991 they had played against Gor Mahia in the CECAFA club cup in Tanzania. Gor Mahia at the time were coached by player-coach Austin Oduor and included the likes of Charles Omondi “Korea” in goal with Tobias Ocholla, Zedekiah Otieno “Zico”, Paul Ochieng plus youthful new signings Allan Odhiambo, Fred Awich, Felix Otieno, Charles Ogutu, Tom Odhiambo as well as Congolese refugee Francis Kasinde and Ethiopian refugee Michael Teshome Zelleallem.
Villa had a very experienced side with Mike Mukasa, Adam Ssemugabi, Geoffrey Higenyi, William Nkemba, Paul Hasule, Paul Nkata, Twaha Kivumbi, Sula Kato, Magid Musisi, all national team players
Gor Mahia were in high spirits. Before going to CECAFA, they had beaten a team from Denmark (FC Ikast). They represented Denmark in the 1991 UEFA Cup. Yet Gor Mahia beat 2-0 with Kasinde scoring a memorable goal.
In the opening CECAFA match, Gor Mahia battled the vastly experienced Villa side to a 0-0 draw. GorMahia went on to top the group after wins over Al Mourada of Sudan and Limbe Leaf of Malawi, before losing to hosts Simba SC in the semis.
The two sides had also met in the group stage of the 1983 CECAFA Club cup that was held in Zanzibar. Gor Mahia were then coached by Jerry Imbo who was also a player. This was a month or so before the arrival of Len Julians. This was And Gor Mahia were fielding a very young team because a significant number of players had left after the disastrous 1982 season. Some like Andrew Obunga, Ogolla “Machine” and George Ayuka were out for disciplinary reasons. Stalwarts Allan Thigo and Tim Ayieko had recently retired. Supernovae Nahashon Oluoch and Sammy Owino had left for the USA. The departures offered opportunities for previous bench warmers like Austin Oduor, Peter Otieno Bassanga, Sammy Onyango and Gideon Hamisi to step into the starting line-up along with regular starters like Bobby Ogolla and John Chore. Gor Mahia were also several youthful new signings like Hezborn Omollo, John Okello Zangi, Charles Otieno and David Ochieng.
The group only had three teams. Gor Mahia lost the first match to arch-rivals AFC 2-1. Chore scored Gor Mahia’s goal. Gor Mahia had to beat Villa which was then known as Nakivubo Villa. It was not to be. Gor Mahia lost 0-1. Coaching Villa on that day was none other than David Otti who had coached Gor Mahia between 1980 and 1982.
After the match, there was an internal investigation led by club officials Jeremiah Odera and George Ouma. The investigation concluded that among other things, two Gor Mahia players were bribed by Nakivubo Villa for a some of Ksh 600. The Nakivubo chairman Patrick Kawooya later admitted that he gave the two players Ksh 600 each but that he gave it to them as a gesture of friendship.
The encounter against Villa will be a stern test for Kogalo. Though Villa have not won the Ugandan league for a decade, they are on the recovery path. They finished second in 2015 and won the Uganda cup which qualified them to play in the 2016 Confederations cup.
They are one of the best supported teams in Uganda and are beginning to bring the crowds back. Thus Gor Mahia can expect to play against a significant number of partisan fans on Wednesday.
And Villa have been impressive in recent build matches. They beat Ugandan league sides Kiwanga FC 2-1, beat Future Stars 3-0, and beat Sadolin paints of Jinja 3-1. They have been the most active side in the transfer market, signing internationals Mike Sserumaga and left back Farouk Musisi as they prepare to play Al Khartoum of Sudan.
Following a successful tour of Ethiopia, Gor Mahia are set to proceed to Sudan to play additional build up matches.
“We have been invited to play two high profile friendly matches against Al Hilal and Al Khartoum. We are leaving tonight and our first match will be on Wednesday and the second one most probably on Saturday,” said Jolawi Obondo to the club site.
The two teams finished second and fourth respectively in the recently concluded Sudanese league.
The club will however have to cope with the fact that a number of players are still missing.
“Like St. George, Al Hilal and Al Khartoum are the type of teams that I want to play in preparation for the season ahead. Unfortunately, some players are still missing,” said coach Frank Nuttall
Al Hilal in particular will be a stern test for Gor Mahia. They have reached the group stage of the Africa Champions league six times in the last 10 years. Of those six, they have proceeded to the semi-final stage four times.
Yet there was a time when Gor Mahia used to beat Al-Hilal regularly. During the 1984 CECAFA club cup, Gor Mahia shredded Al Hilal 3-0 in Nairobi with Hezborn Omollo leading the way with two goals.
In 1985, Gor Mahia would meet Al Hilal again in the CECAFA club cup. This time Al Hilal were the hosts but Gor Mahia emerged victorious winning 3-1 despite missing six key players via suspension. Gor Mahia went on to win the 1985 CECAFA club cup.
The two sides met again in the Africa champions league in 1992. It was the quarter-finals. Interestingly, this is the furthest that Gor Mahia have gone in Africa’s premier competition. Gor Mahia won the opening leg 2-0 but lost 0-2 in the return leg. The match went to penalties which Al-Hilal won 4-2. In goal for Gor Mahia was Joseph Asembo who was an excellent goalkeeper but had no luck when it came to penalties. Al Hilal went on to eliminate Ismaily of Egypt before losing tp Wydad Casablanca of Morocco in the final.
2015 is a year that will be remembered in the annals of history of this club. In 2015, Gor Mahia won 3 titles and came within a hair’s breath of winning two others. Not only that, Gor Mahia went unbeaten in the league, unbeaten in the league, in the KPL top 8 and the Super Cup. In the GoTV Shield, Gor Mahia did not lose any game in regulation. They reached the semi-finals before losing on penalties to Nakumatt. Gor Mahia’s losses only came in international competitions: In the CECAFA club cup, Gor Mahia reached the final before losing to Azam of Tanzania. In the Africa champions league, Kogalo overcame CNAPs of Madagascar in the preliminary round before losing to AC Leopards of Congo.
Gor Mahia kicked off their 2015 campaign by announcing 14 new signings. (Khalid Aucho, Boniface Oluoch, Ronald Omino, Earnest Wendo, Ali Abondo, Farouk Ssentongo , James Ohawa, Dirkir Glay, Augustine Walusimbi , Jerry Santo , Zachary Toufiq , Innocent Wafula , Martin Werunga , Michael Olunga , Bernard Odhiambo)
Fans were not too impressed by the signings. Many questioned were Ali Abondo was re-signed by the club yet he had been released two years earlier due to lack of effort and was subsequently released by Tusker.
Of these signings, Ohawa, Ssentongo, Walusimbi, Werunga and Toufiq were later dropped by coach Nuttall. Gor Mahia would later sign additional players: Meddie Kagere and Abouba Sibomana from Rwanda as well as Karim Nizigiyimana from Burundi. Sadly the trio could not be included in Gor Mahia’s champions league list because they were signed after the CAF deadline.
Gor Mahia’s performance in the 2015 pre-season left many fans alarmed. There were less than convincing wins over lower tier teams. The loss that left many fans up in arms was when Bandari beat Gor Mahia 2-0. Fans in Mombasa openly questioned the competence of coach Nuttall and his assistant Bobby Ogolla. Matters came to a head when Gor Mahia lost 0-3 to visiting Zambian side Power Dynamos. But coach Nuttall re-assured fans that trhe team was still gelling and experimenting with different combinations.
Fans finally started to believe coach Nuttall when Gor Mahia beat Sofapaka 2-1 to lift the 2015 Super cup. Both goals came via Ali Abondo. One was a penalty that resulted when Michael Olunga was fouled by the Sofapaka goalkeeper David Okello. The second was a sublime finish by Abondo after picking up a defence splitting pass from Khalid Aucho. Abondo’s performance started to assuage the concerns of fans who were wondering why he was signed.
Gor Mahia were pitted against CNAPS of Madagascar. The Madagascans were no pushovers. Gor Mahia narrowly won the first leg 1-0. The goal came from Ali Abondo who converted a penalty after Michael Olunga was fouled. The CNAPs coach at the time stated that Gor Mahia were very lucky since in his opinion, the penalty was not deserved.
The return leg was played in Mahamasina, Madagascar in front of a hostile capacity crowd. Gor Mahia took an early lead via Ali Abondo. But CNAPS soon scored three goals in quick succession. Gor Mahia appeared buried until George Odhiambo broke the hearts of the home crowd to score Gor Mahia second goal. This was the crucial goal that Gor Mahia needed to advance on away goal rule, for they lost 2-3.
Coach Nuttall was not happy with the performance.
“Our performance was poor because we took long to settle in the game. We lost total concentration in first half and our opponents capitalized on that to score quick goals. We knew we had to come out strongly in the second half and that’s exactly what we did to contain them,”
It is possible that the inexperienced Kogalo side was unnerved by the large raucous crowd.
In the first round, Gor Mahia faced a sterner test against AC Leopards of Congo republic. It is a team that had won the CAF confederations cup two years earlier. Gor Mahia lost both legs 0-1. Coach Nuttall was adamant that the team had played well.
“We played very well in both halves as the boys showed a lot of bravery. It is unfortunate that we are never given the credit we deserve especially after such a great performance against a team of this calibre. “As far as I am concerned, we are still in the match and will try and do better in the return leg,” he told journalists after the game.
Nuttall attributed AC leopard’s win to luck. According to him, Gor Mahia played better and deserved to win whereas the Congolese had one chance on which they capitalized.
“I really applaud the players. They dominated the first half and every player’s contribution was very impressive. The opponent had one chance in the second half and nothing else. We’ll see how it goes in the return match,” he said.
By this time, some fans had started to lose patience with Michael Olunga, the big name signing. Many fans expected him to fit into the big shoes of Ugandan Dan Sserunkuma who had steered Gor Mahia to two succesive league wins. Olunga had a slow start and missed numerous scoring chances. Nuttall re-assured fans that Olunga would eventually
The 2015 league campaign will be remembered forever as the year Gor Mahia went unbeaten. It was the first unbeaten record in the KPL era and the first unbeaten league campaign since 1988. But Gor Mahia did not just go unbeaten. They did it in style.
Gor Mahia started the league with a convincing 4-2 win over Mathare United. Olunga scored twice and Abondo scored twice. For Olunga, it was sheer joy as he finally quieted the naysayers and doubters. For Abondo , it was a continuation of his run of excellent form that had left his previous doubters scratching their head.
Gor Mahia went on to win their next matches 2-1, 3-1 and 3-1 against Bandari, Chemelil and KCB. Though Gor Mahia were winning, medianaysayers expressed concern about the number of goals that Gor Mahia were conceding. Whereas Gor Mahia had conceded very few goals in 2013 and 2014, they had now 5 goals in the first 4 games. But coach Nuttall dismissed such concerns stating that winning was more important than clean sheets.
But as if to silence the critics, Gor Mahia went through a stretch of 10 games where they did not concede a goal. The most notable win was a 5-0 drubbing of Nakuru All Stars. That win was most memorable for the goal that Meddie Kagere scored. He elegantly sidefooted that Nakuru goalkeeper leaving the latter befuddled. It was a goal that is easily the best goal of the 2015 KPL season.
By the time the second leg started, it was clear that Gor Mahia would win the 2015 league. Olunga had finally hit his stride and established himself as the best Kenyan striker. His partnership with Meddie Kagere and Ali Abondo proved lethal and established itself as one of the best attacks the club has seen.
Olunga’s defining moment came at Afraha stadium when he scored all four goals in the 4-1 demolition of Chemelil Sugar. It was a good win for Gor Mahia to silence Chemelil coach Mike Mururi who is one of the coaches who had been advancing the theory that Gor Mahia are helped by referees. Though Olunga got the plaudits, the man who deserved man of the match honours was Karim Nizigiyimana. His industry and tireless running created almost all the goals, often leaving Olunga with the easiest of tasks to score.
In the next match, Gor Mahia demolished KCB 6-1. It was the highest number of goals scored by any team in the KPL throughout the year. It established Kogalo as an unstoppable juggernaut in the eyes of other teams and the media. So much that when Gor Mahia faced AFC Leopards, in the second leg match 3 weeks later, AFC fans had resigned themselves to an inevitable loss and decided that their sole aim was to ruin the match. That they did, causing fracas that ended the match prematurely and resulted in Gor Mahia being awarded the match 2-0.
With Gor Mahia having an unassailable lead for most of the second leg, it was just a matter of when they would mathematically win the leg. That they did with three matches to spare when they beat SoNy Sugar 1-0 on September 15. But those who thought that Gor Mahia would take their foot off the pedal were mistaken. Gor Mahia went on to beat Sofapaka 2-0 in the next match as the relentless juggernaut continued to match on. Gor Mahia assured an unbeaten record winning their last two match 1-0 and 2-0 against Western Stima and Muhoroni Youth.
Gor Mahia were eager to put aside their below par performance in the 2014 CECAFA club cup. They started on a bright note against much fancied Young Africans of Dar es Salaam who were the host team. Gor Mahia sunk Yanga 2-1, coming from behind, thanks to goals from Harun Shakava who headed home a corner and Michael Olunga who shrugged off two attentive defenders to score.
Gor Mahia went to end the preliminary stages on a brilliant note with wins over KMKM of Zanzibar (3-1), Telecom of Djibouti(3-1) before drawing 1-1 with Al Khartoum of Sudan. The win over Telecom was notable as they had forced Gor Mahia to a disappointing 2-2 draw in 2014.
In the quarter-finals, Gor Mahia beat Al Malakia of South Sudan 2-1. They then beat Al Khartoum 3-1 in the semis. Al Khartoum were featuring former Gor Mahia midfielder Anthony Akumu. Gor Mahia’s dream of winning the cup for the first time since 1985 were shattered when they lost 0-2 to Azam of Tanzania in the final
Michael Olunga was voted the best player of the tournament. He was also the tournament’s top scorer with 5 goals. Boniface Oluoch was voted best goalkeeper of the tournament.
Gor Mahia had not won the KPL top 8 since 2011. In 2015, they started their campaign with an impressive 3-0 win over Muhoroni Youth. Next they came up against perennial rivals Tusker who had eliminated Gor Mahia from this tournament in the previous year. Gor Mahia earned a measure of revenge. They beat Tusker 4-3 on aggregate after a two legged second round (2-2 and 2-1). The final match was held in Kisumu. Gor Mahia beat SoNy Sugar 2-1 to lift their third title of the season.
Gor Mahia started their cup campaign with a 3-0 win over Langata Gremio. Goals from Kagere, George Odhiambo and Dirkir Glay sunk the lower tier side. Kagere wason target again, scoring twice as Gor Mahia beat Ushuru 3-2 in the next round. Collins Okoth rounded up the scores. Then came Palos of Kisumy whom Gor Mahia dismissed 4-2. Ali Abondo struck twice with Shakava and Olunga rounding up the scores. The quarter-final match against Administration Police at City stadium was the George Odhiambo “Blackberry” show. He scored two classic goals that were reminiscent of this 2010 form. He sliced open the AP defence with quick dribbles then calmly planted the ball in the net. Kagere rounded up the score as Gor Mahia won 3-1.
By the time Gor Mahia reached the semi-final against Nakumatt, fatigue had taken its toll on the players. Gor Mahia had played in five tournaments all the way to the final. Numerous Gor Mahia players were involved with their national teams in various tournaments. It showed as Gor Mahia were held 1-1 before losing on penalties.
For Abondo and Boniface Oluoch it was a case of overcoming adversity after they were dismissively declared surplus to requirements by Tusker at the end of 2014. Musa Mohamed had his best season in a Gor Mahia jersey, solidifying the central defence position. He wore the captains armband for most games. If there was a club chairman of the year award,it would have gone to Ambrose Rachier for his astute signings and leadership at a time when Gor Mahia was operating without a sponsor.