Gor Mahia fans have a lot to cheer for over the last week. 8 days ago the they put Chemelil to the sword, beating then 4-1, thus earning a measure of revenge against the team that soundly beat them in leg 1. They followed it up this past Sunday with an emphatic 2-0 win over league leaders Tusker. Beating Tusker is perhaps the biggest accomplishement of the season and it electrified Kogalo fans all over the country and abroad. Fans broke into song and dance at the stadium. There was a myriad of celebratory text messages being exchanged between fans in the aftermath.
Gor Mahia being in 3rd position slightly passed the halfway point of the league is perhaps the biggest achievement the team has accomplished in the local league since they finished runners up to Utalii in 1997. The next year 1998 was the beginning of the quagmire of incompetence and poor leadership that saw Kogalo pluunge previously unimaginable depths. This culminated in the relegation of the team twice (2002 and 2004) under the leadership of one Erastus Okul. In 2004, Kogalo was destined for the lower divisions and was only saved from the ignominy of relegation by the fact that Nzoia FC was disbanded thus opening up a spot for Kogalo in the top tier league. Who knows if the club would have recovered. Perhaps we would have gone the way of Re-Union or Shabana.
Jackson Mureu, Nick Otieno and Benard Odhiambo celebrate an equalizing goal during a league match. There was’nt however much to celebrate during the 2002 season and many will want to forget it quickly.
Today however Kogalo are playing the most attractive football in the league. Both national dailies have said as much. Whereas this attractive football did not always yield results during the 1st leg, Kogalo have shown the cutting edge in the past two games. Whats impressive is the fact that this teamis perhaps the youngest team in the league. However the maturity and composure shown by these youngstars has been a joy to watch. They play so well together, one would be forgiven for thinking that they have been playing together for years.
Baldwin Ngwa seems to have developed a telepathic understanding with Blackberry and can find the latter even when facing the wrong direction. Duncan Makori provides much needed width and has shown an ability to cross with either foot a la Sammy Onyango “Jogoo” hapo zamani. The midfield of Opiyo, Collins, Ocholla and Okumu work relentlessly to stifle opposing playmakers. Musa Mohammed has shown an ability to man mark the best attackers in the league as he showed when he shut down Paul Were. Masika, Awilo and Ongwae all complete a much improved defence shielding Jerim in goal. Lets now hope that coach Zico can continue to work his magic.
Another area of improvement has been fan support. Whereas in the past fans were demanding and only cheered when the team did well, this new set of fans gets behind the team whether they are winning or not and acts as a crucial 12th man. And now more and more fans are returning as word spreads about the exciting brand of football on display when Kogalo plays. Not only was the Russia section full this Sunday, but the standing room only section (Soweto) was also packed. Its been a long time since we saw this.
GM fans have become the crucial 12th man