11 Mar 14

In the past few years Gor Mahia has learned some harsh lessons in continental football, most of which have been beneficial to the club. When the club lost heavily to Rwanda APR in 2008, they learned that continental tourneys must be played by exprienced players and noyt recent school leavers. When they lost to Ferroviario de Maputo, they learned the importance of having a strong, united, independent technical bench that cannot be influenced by agenda-driven club officials. Both these lessons spurred the club to success on the local scene in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

The last two matches against Esperance were hock full of lessons that Gor Mahia must learn and apply if they are to ever close the gap on teams like Esperance.

There are several tactical and technical aspects that Gor Mahia must learn from. The purpose is not to blame any player because having watched the match, all Gor Mahia players gave their best efforts.

Movement off the ball

Gor Mahia players are too static. Too often when a team-mate has the ball, they stand around making it impossible for the team-mate with the ball to make a precise pass.

Esperance have mastered the art of moving off the ball. Their attackers make decoy runs to draw defenders thus leaving another player wide open. They are always looking to run into space and it inevitably results in a through ball that wreaks havoc on the opposing goal.

In fact virtually all the goals Esperance scored were the result of well timed movements off the ball and in some cases a decoy run by one player that left another player wide open.

Perhaps the only Gor Mahia player who showed a willingness to make such runs was Geoffrey Walusimbi. Which brings me to my next point.

Lack of Coordination

On most of the occassions when Walusimbi made a run down the flanks, he was not picked out by the team-mate with the ball. Late in the second half, Blackberry had the ball on the edge of the box. Walusimbi made a diagonal run into space. Blackberry did not see Walusimbi and instead tried to force the ball to Sserunkuma who was marked by two people. He ended up loosing the ball. Some of this stems from the fact that these Gor Mahia players simply have’nt played together long enough to be in sync. But even Sserunkuma who has played with Walusimbi for the Uganda Cranes missed one of Walusimbi’s runs.

Quickness of thought and the ability to make the right decision on the fly is another area where Esperance really exposed Gor Mahia. Logarusic once said he wanted players who could think and run at the same time. On Monday we saw why.

This is in starke contrast to Esperance. They anticipate a run from a team-mate. When an Esperance player has the ball he will look left and right and inevitable pick out a team-mate making a run.

There is no coordination between the Gor Mahia forwards Blackberry and Sserunkuma. Some of this is because the two have never played together. It does not matter how good each one is individually. If they are not in sync, the team will not succeed. They both need to start working on better coordination, anticipating each others runs, making the right pass and working hard for each other.

Long Balls

The lack of movement off the ball is the reason Gor Mahia often resorts to long balls. The player with the ball at his feet often has no choice but to hoof the ball forward. Sending long balls is tantamount to giving the ball away. This is especially true when you consider that both Sserunkuma and Blackberry both lack height.

Precise passing

You are highly unlikely to see Esperance use long balls. They pick out their team-mates with the precision of a surgeon. Even when the pass is via a header. Early in the first half, an Jouni picked out Akaishi with a precise header. Akaishi in turn chested the ball and unleashed a volley which was saved off the line by David Owino.

The art of precise passing is something that can only be mastered via structured youth development. These Esperance players have been doing passing drills since they were 12 or 13. Without structured youth development, Gor Mahia will not close the gap that currently exists between them and Esperance.

Four out if the five goals Esperance scored were the result a series of precise through balls.


Having those precise passes without equally precise finishing would be a waste of time. Esperance players are very sharp in front of goal. You do not score 5 goals unless this is true. They are also calm , confident and clinical. Nothing is rushed. They often finish with one touch.

None of this happens by accident. These Esperance players have been working hard on their finishing since their early teens, once again thanks to structured youth development and even now as senior players, they still work hard at it.

Early in the second half on one of Gor Mahia’s few forays into the Esperance danger zone , Timonah Wanyonyi sent a cross which found Akumu by himself at the far post. Crippled by lack of confidence , Akumu sent a feeble shot directly at the goalkeeper. You can tell that he was not used to being in such scoring positions. Whereas Esperance players have been practising such scenarios over and over , one could tell Akumu has not practised such scenarios enough because he quite simply was not sure what to do.

In structured youth development schemes, all players work in finishing and all players work in defending regardless of which position they play.  The results is that even a defensive midfielder is polished enough to take such a chance with confidence. Look at Harry Afful who scored the 4th goal for Esperance. He is a defender/defensive midfielder.


It was clear that the Esperance players were in much better shape. Everytime a Gor Mahia player got the ball, he was immediately surrounded.

Gor Mahia on the other hand gave Esperance players plenty of room to operate. And if you give such teams room, they will slice your defence to pieces.

Esperance were quicker to the ball. They won all the 50-50 battles and Gor Mahia often had to make a desperate lunge to get to the ball. One such deperate lunge caused Gor Mahia to concede a penalty in the first half. It looked like Akumu was much closer to the ball. But the Esperanc player outran him forcing Akumu to react with a rash challenge. Thankfully the resulting penalty was wasted. In past years, Gor Mahia had players like Allan Thigo and Abbas Magongo: 90-minute men who covered every inch of the field. Yet Esperance have several such players on their team.

In fact those Esperance players were so quick to the ball that one would be forgiven for thinking that they were on performance enhancing drugs. But it all comes down to having a qualified trainer who can customize a fitness regimen for each player to get them into the kind of shape required to play a pressing game. The pressing game that Esperance played caused all kinds of jitters.

Tactical aspects and defensive formation.

Watching the game , it became clear that Esperance had identified a number of weakness in the way Gor Mahia defends. They then worked on strategies to exploit these weakness. And in typical North African fashion, they worked on it and perfected it in practise.

Whereas Gor Mahia’s defence was often caught flat footed and failed to pick up a runner, Gor Mahia strikers were almost always surrounded. Of course it helps that Gor Mahia’s style of play is highly predictable.

Where to go from here

The largest lesson that must be be learned from this is Gor Mahia must enhance the calibre of its players. Passing, shooting, tactical awareness, coordination and movement must all improve.

Once again none of the players who played on Monday are to blame. They tried their hardest. It just so happens that Esperance players were of a higher calibre due largely to better structures. In fact watching this game, it becomes clear why most Kenya players do not make it in Europe.

Some of these issues can be fixed in the short term. But the vast majority can only be fixed with long term solutions namely structured youth development. Gor Mahia must come up with their own youth structures instead of depending on Sadili whose coaches may or may not be qualified youth coaches. Gor Mahia like every other Kenyan team has become too dependent on signing players who while individually talented, are lacking in key fundamentals of the game. And when they play together, the symptoms are magnified.

Yet youth development is just one of the aspects that seperate Esperance from Gor Mahia. Aside from having a huge budget that is bigger than the budget for Kenya’s ministry of sports, Esperance also have their own facilities and an asset base which they build on every year. Gor Mahia has no asset base and no facilities so it is difficult to even address issues like youth development adequately. I would like to say the club has a long way to go but they haven’t even started the journey yet.

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  • ombishe says:

    good stadium.good youth structure.good gym n diet.good salary to our players.tell me y not.n my opion.Baba is our patron y cant we ask him for a loan to build a stadium,houses for players n technical bench.ama ask take any bank to b collecting gate money alafu we ask them for a loan.Ambrose fikiria.had that barcelona is a community club.let us borrow vile wana manage.

  • tom ochieng okello says:


  • Barefoot Bandit says:

    Ja N’gwech you don’t need to apologize to me. Who am I that you should waste your time and breath apologizing? Instead, apologize to the administrator of the blog and those bloggers who mind your kind of language.

  • omondi says:




  • dinga says:

    admin i can support you two areas.
    the move off the ball is once thing these kenyan coaches are blind to. one team that i have seen use this however was tusker under matano. it has always created an illusion than the opponent has one extra player.
    both leopards and gor defences were very venerable to this style of play, in other words they were basically blind to how their defences were being opened.
    supersport used it well against leopards and esperance were very good at it.

    passing has not picked up in kenyan football. this has been discussed here a million times so no need to repeat. again tusker under matano did well in this area.
    one area which i have not seen much of in kenyan football is what you call finishing or creating chances or trick play infront of goal. i will refer to barcelona. watch what these guys do at the goal mouth area and u’d probably understand.
    kenyan soccer still believes in huffing and puffing. the gor play of ‘find sserrenkuma’ has become easy to predict even for kpl sides. gor is stil coming from a recent turbulent past, but i think all will be well if certain things fall in place.
    ofcourse it takes money to run football but what has happened to gor is not about millions of shillings or how many officials went to tunisia, it’s about a myopic technical bench. they saw how esperance played yet went to tunis and deployed the same idea-less soccer.

  • Ja N'gwech Branch says:

    Now we need to concentrate with the task a head, hope the team learned a lot from yesterday’s match. Mr BW, the schedule is tight and the pressure is high with the fact that u have the last yr title! We are with u in prayers. Kogalo plays well but football is not how best u play but how much u score!! May our strikers learn from Esperave, with the agressivenes to heat the net and also to open up and precise with passes. With this we’ll retain the trophy. God bless u all.

  • Mcosweto says:

    Gor mahia is a sleeping giant, thanks to the poor leadership at the club. The club has nothing to show for its 46 year existence apart from the star bus. We’ll never know any development as long as we have politicians in clua leadership.
    Losing tn Esperance by 5 goals to nil should serve as an eye opener to the club. We are far from whe we should be. We need a proper development agenda for the club to move forward. So many good ideas have been floated on this site but it seems no one is listening.

  • Albert Kosero - Sofaset Branch Kampala says:

    In my opinion, we overrated Kogallo and that is why some of us here on this blog cannot manage their disappointments. Watch this team in 2016 and 2017. This is work in progress not unless interrupted mid-way. We can beat Esperence yes but not now. Gor is featuring in CAF Champions League for the first time in 18 years. Esperence are perennial challengers to this trophy and have won it twice or thrice in the last 3 years. Gor could only participate but not compete with such clubs at the moment. All is not lost. Let us keep faith in the players, TB and EC. There are no quick fixes to some of these things. We just need to manage our expectations. The future is very very bright.

    For God and my beloved club – Kogallo

  • Mwakio P says:

    @Mcosweto, I am in full agreement with your posting alongside other bloggers. It was a worthy experience from one of the top African clubs.

    What we need is planning, planning and planning in all aspects of footballing activities that include:-
    1. youth development
    2. transparency and accountability
    3. technical skills development
    4. governance and leadership that should be above reproach
    5. financial sustainability and strong financial base
    6. infrastructure
    7. playing more and lots of friendly matches with top African clubs across the African continent
    8. good leadership skills
    9. strong scouting for players
    10. talent development

    Meanwhile we now need to focus on KPL, CECAFA, Top 8 and FKL cups.

  • papamiky says:

    I have said this again and again that Gor mahia does not have a technical bench with depth. Infact much as Bobby williamson as been hyped, there will never be a team cohession.

    What do we expect from Bobby Ogolla now? He is lost with ideas surly. I respect his legence but time has aught up with his skills. you might wonder at times what character a coach should instill especially on such circumstances we find ourseleves in….starting wanyonyi for OBOYA or Kevo or even Rama? we need a kenyan coach who realy understands Gor mahia’s football.

    lastly, you might have a bed for a stadium but without chemistry, you will never enjoy it.

    Try Ghost mulei and Pamzo for technique.

    I rest my right.

  • Albert Kosero - Sofaset Branch Kampala says:

    @Papamiky, I beg to disagree with you on fielding players. The Wanyonyi you are questioning, played brutally well in the first leg. How come you never questioned it then. Players are fielded according to how they respond to training. I do not want to think that BW and BO do not know what Oboya or K14 or Rama are capable of doing on a good day. Honestly we cannot argue like that. Its a very cheap way of looking at things. What I know is that a good coach does not relay on history of a player but his current form and how he responds to training.

    For God and my beloved club – Kogallo

  • Jakoyo says:

    True, technical bench is the problem…they buy players and therefore they can dictate which players come on board and which ones leave the club. The players who can think and run have to be identified early and recruited, this is a talent development programme! See how Chelsea, Barcelona, santos and many other clubs do it so well…….

    The idea of a technical director is gaining momentum in Kenya, lets push this agenda in gor Mahia, it will be the solution to some of the issues that have been raised in this posting.


  • Sam Muga says:

    Papamiky! I think you are new in Kenyan football.Can you just tell us one Kenyan coach who have delivered in any team up to continental level?

  • Dan Original says:

    As usual we win we shout over the roof how we are the best, we lose then the finger-pointing starts. When TP Mazembe beat the same team 6-0 they took that as a lesson and built on it and we should do the same. We are now saying we need a local coach but when Zico was proposed we were almost singing the war-cry. Who are the other local coaches who can handle Gor? Matano? Let’s look forward and use the past to shape our future. When we beat Mathare and City stars the coach and TB was good now we have been beaten we have a poor TB. When you are coaching some players who are involved in continental matches for the first time the quality of players becomes an issue. Once we sort out the financial aspect of the club then all the rest will faill in place. I hope those who thrive in causing mayhem when things don’t go the way we expected will excuse us this time for us to build our team in peace. We can even handle the ticketing fiasco amongst other ills at the club without resorting to ‘chaos’ which ultimately make us continue digging even when we are in a hole.
    By the way how’s the U19 doing in the NPL? Our future might just lie there

  • ODUOR12 says:

    Youth development?
    I don’t think this will work for GM. It will be another sham coz we don’t have the structures administrative/technical/financial.
    I propose a hybrid system wereby the 8-10 talented youth understudy the first team.
    Scouting is another avenue that has served GM well is the past.
    TB & eventually EC can rectify most of the issues raised in the above article by proper recruitment of players with the requisit skills.
    BW Sofameow & Esperance have exposed your underbelly.

  • owino vincent odhiambo says:

    Guys u must b crias GM cannot b coached by Kenyan coach look at shemeji Nandwa is going in less than a month.We did well in Tunis bcoz it was a learning process,its now time 4r domestic n Cecafa.

  • ODUOR12 says:

    BW am sure as an experienced coach who has been with GM 4 sometime now u know the calibre & capacity of your squad.
    Dan Original may excuse u but Sir you must have effective tactical approaches 4 various opponents b4 & during a game. Esperance’s coach from the 1st leg alone knew how 2 sort out GM.
    Our passion 4 GM blinded us that we had a chance but CAF proved out of our depth. I expect different in the TPL, GoTv & CECAFA. Trained daily by a top professional coach Dan O’s assertion that……….

  • ODUOR12 says:

    that players adopt to a game situation does not hold any water. Its plain & simple the coaches tactics failed as Esperance. To be fair the useless Sudan friendly could have had an effect but minimal in my view.
    Anyway the next few months will tell.

  • Dan Original says:

    @ODUOR12, and what were these tactics that failed? Do you know that at times players fail the team/coach? Have you heard of stage fright or a situation where a team is basically out-manouvered? Even in Europe you see a situation where the coach gives up, sits down and waits for the match to end. Football as much as I know it has lots of dynamics going on in a match. some of this are phsychological, self belief, physical status etc. Give Mourinho or Wenger a team like Fulham or WBA and tell them to deliver and you will be surprised that they will decline the offer citing various reasons. With the resources we are having including the calibre of players and the level of our league we are actually doing well, infact very well.

  • Mcosweto says:

    Those blaming the the technical bench for the lose in Tunis are missing the point. Esperance are African giants, they have an annual budget bigger than what FKF have, may be even bigger than that of sports ministry. They have all the facilities a club in the African contitent can wish to have.
    We must first think of beating the likes of simba, Apr,st. Georges, el mariek and azam. If we can beat the said teams repeatedly and convinsingly, then we can have the confidence to face north, south and west africans.
    Gor leadership should wake up and perform their duties.

  • Mwakio P says:

    Guys there was no miracle we were expecting in Tunisia. Esperance is a professional outfit not like our poor GM, which is in between amateur and semi professional team.

    @Papamiky, there is no local coach that can handle GM at the moment. Why do you want a local coach? Let us give BW time as he is a very good coach.

    We should stop pretending to have technical know how on football tactics. Suppose GM had won, all over here will be showering the team and BW with praises. Let us remove the log from our own eyes before we as bloggers make useless and nonsensical comments that will never take the club anywhere.

    Why can’t you be coaches and technical advisers instead of yelling on what you do not know on tactics, experience, players, local coaches etc?

    @Dan Original and @Kosero, you are spot on and let us call a spade a spade.

    GM fans are the most ungrateful lot. Most of GM fans are always busy making free entry to the stadium, causing mayhem (hooligans), colluding with corrupt officials to rob the club from the gate collections, smoking bhangi, abusive, throwing stones, etc

    The team need to pick from where we are currently and win the league as we prepare for 2015 CAF Champion League. Let us win KPL and all will be well.

  • collins says:

    1) KPL is not competitive enough to offer necessary and enough techniques to a club like GM. Recall in 1987 Jack Johnson had to take the side for technical maturity for two months to Denmark? Staying and confining GM to Kenya is no development, After qualifying for a continental cup we should ship the team to the west to mature as JJ did in 87.That is what should have happened last year in DEcember.

  • voltage says:

    It was a lesson learnt. Its upto all to play their part especially players. Sheer hard work and belief is needed today and tomorrow. No one needs to be ashamed but indignant of the loss and see it as an opportunity to aim higher.

  • Now to the people who almost crucified Jerry for letting in easy goals where r u now that Jerry was nowhere near tunis,who now should we crucify here yawa am waiting

  • Mwakio P says:

    @Erico Jarae, it is Kogalo fans that should be crucified for having not traveled with the team to Tunis.

  • oswozo moziek says:

    Collins@22….when you say KPL is not competitive enough to offer necessary and enough techniques to a club like GM,what exactly are you suggesting?
    Secondly,am not sure if we had the resources to take the team abroad for technical maturity as you call it…
    Finally,its an acceptable fact that Esperance are way ahead of us technically,financially and otherwise.That being the case,it doesnt mean that we can not get there too.As long as we put structures in place,focus and have in place leaders whose only concern will be to take us forward not backwards!!

  • ODUOR12 says:

    @ Dan Original sometimes you amaze me.
    Isn’t a 5-0 drubbing a failure in tactics?
    What stage fright are you talking about?
    Aren’t these the players who were part of H.Stars who won the CECAFA senior challenge.?
    Then again what do you expect if you prepare against Mumbi F.C.
    You cap it all by questioning the calibre of our players but I ask you WHO RECRUITED THEM?
    As 4 seasoned blogger Mwakio u voice your opinion on a wide variety of issues does that make u a coach or expert on GM issues?

  • Albert Kosero - Sofaset Branch Kampala says:

    @ODUOR12, TP Mazembe beat Esperence 5 – 0 in 2010 CAF Champions League Finals. I wonder whether that was lack of tactics, stage fright, lack of youth structures or EC ineptness on their side. However that did not stop them from winning the 2011 Edition.
    The long and the short of my comment, is that some of these things happen and if they do, you learn from the experiences gained, move on and plan to do better in future. Name calling, sacking coaches, rating players etc will not help a thing. It can only aggravate the situation.
    For God and my beloved club Kogallo.

  • cafootball says:

    @albert that 5-0 first leg result was a sham with biased officiating.
    these projects you are calling for need professionalism which means gor must change its structure. no bank will loan you to finance a stadium if accountants dont run club accounts,no strong marketing department, no ceo, no info on fan numbers,etc

  • ODUOR12 says:


  • dinga says:

    as much as i admire matano, i would not recommend a kenyan coach. kenyan coaches are too lousy, they settle for crap and are always ready to accept anything just to be seen as coaches. they are ready to work in deplorable conditions yet hoodwink the public that they will deliver. it’s not all about structures as being claimed. what structures are there in zimbabwe or guinea? in africas’ 50 plus coutries, most are in deplorable conditions but will still beat kenya in football. kenyan hopelessness is always blamed on structures or allowances depending on the ‘failee’ behind the mike.
    what suprised me was that Bobby could not read the game and change. doesn’t he know the type of football played in north or west africa? nandwa’s approach with afc was even worse, deploying ugali power football against a technical side really exposed the level of kenyan coaches. Bobby disappointed at gor, his ‘patia sserenkuma’ tactic is too simple to read. the african tour has badly exposed the gor technical bench. they must now up their game. it’s high time gor started to scout for a ‘beyond kpl league’ coach. no player shud be blamed for what has happened, gor simply had an idea-less tech bench that quickly fell to the patronizing statements given by the esperance coach.
    haven’t ever heard the USA say this a million times? ‘Kenya and the US are development partners’.
    only that if u look keenly enough, one has a begging bowl while the other walks in space.

    kenyan rugby gave a good example of how things should be done. what structures did they build? beats me! soccer fraternity needs to get leaders who know what they are doing. the likes of nyamweya are politicians, they are at their best when expelling or suspending others. rubgy went for pro’s and are now rubbing shoulders with the elite of the world.

  • Dan Original says:

    @Dinga hasn’t our rugby reached it’s peak? See our performance in the 7s series. We now need to fully professionalize that game yet our economy and structure cannot. See we will be happy beating SA, NZ, Australia once in a while and capping it with a semis appearance. Back to our beloved team. Can we suggest the coaches we want to coach a team of not-so-handsomely paid players? Can we get a good sponsor or have financial muscle like Esperance, Mazembe or even Simba and Yanga? Yanga went to Turkey and was beaten by Al Ahly on penalties. In GM we scare away sponsors by having run-ins with the officials and fellow supporters. We also have very impatient fans where you lose one match and you are branded a traitor, good-for-nothing etc despite having been showered with praises the other weekend. You will never build a team that way but will constantly be ‘rebuilding’ one. We should let the EC and TB do their thing but do not tire from criticizing. Some jobs like coaching as far as I know as so technical and even Tom, DIck and Jerry can criticise but given a kindergarten school to coach leave alone play can be a very big hassle to manu=y of us. Let’s also note that in a footy game the oppsing team is also strategizing .e.g. if Danny is tightly marked it’s upto the team mates to find an alternative. By the way the coach gives you 20% AND THE OTHER 80% is personal initiative and the usage of the grey matter. At GM we want our players to be angry for success and personally lift the team when down, just like Danny has done of late.
    Fellow fans there is no need for bitterness because we lost to Esperance. Sooner or later we will be singing along Jogoo Road or Uhuru highway as the results come in positively. The focus is now to target CECAFA. On players, you cannot blame anybody because we didn’t get such and such player as this is a free market and players will go where they feel more suitable as well as who provides the most money.

  • Joe Riaga says:

    This game exposed the frailties of the GM technical bench. Yaani GM is so one dimensional and predictable.

    And please lets not kid ourselves. The teams that dominate in Africa typically have the best structures. Thats why North Africans almost always always win the cup.

    National teams are different. Guinea and Mali are able to depend on exiles who immigrated to Europe.

  • ODUOR12 says:

    @ Dan Orig in response to your following queries:
    1. Names of coaches? Please refer to the archives you will see so many names together with their pros & cons very well articulated.
    2. GM sponsorship / financial muscle. Bloggers passionately make proposals on this issue at almost all posting. Case in point refer to @ 2 T.O.O on this very posting.
    3. Mwakio y hypothesize our reactions 2 a GM win when in reality we’ve been thrashed 5-0. If we won we’d be happy & vis versa. Isn’t that normal, ama?

  • Maurie says:

    We are still building this team since it just won the league last year after 20 years. What is required is how we can shorten our learning curve as a team and be more persistent in pursuit of our purpose.

  • Paw Akuche says:

    guys you learn from failures and move on stronger long live gormahia…..kogalo forever!

  • Ja N'gwech Branch says:

    Muhoroni leo wamechapa AFC 1 nil, this time round matches are unpredictable.