Gor Mahia have finally parted ways with Croatian coach Zdvarko Logarusic. According to the clubs site, the club secretary general, George Bwana sent him a letter that read in part : “You have not returned to your coaching duties on the day agreed and as far as we are concerned, you have deserted. The club has decided to relieve you of your duties with immediate effect”.
The Croatian coach arrived during the beginning of the 2012 season when the club had been humbled by Ferroviario Maputo in the CAF cup and was in the relegation zone. Loga took the club on a 18 match winning streak and came within a whisker of winning the league.
The 2013 season proved to be more difficult for Loga as wins were hard to come by. There were stories that KPL coaches had figured out his tactics and knew exactly how to stop him. The mark of a great coach is his ability to adapt his tactics to a changing environment. It is still unclear whether Loga had the formula for this. He himself once remarked that scoring goals in the KPL is proving rather difficult. Perhaps he realized he had gone as far as he could with the club. Coaches in Europe rarely last long with one club anyway. Alex Ferguson types who are succesful with one club for decades are rare.
The exposee by the Standard newspaper which indicated that Loga who is married had a penchant for pursuing all manner of women be it the players girlfriends or members of the Kenya volleyball team or other socialites may have also played a part in Loga’s decision to abscond.
The reasons given by Loga for absconding were the lack of a contract and the fact the he had a tourist visa instead of a work visa does not seem like a valid reason. He also wanted a raise given that the sponsors Tuzo had signed an improved deal.
It seems unlikely that Loga would quit over the lack of a contract or Visa issues given that he had been working for the club all along under these same conditions.
All in all, its a shame that a man who had a chance to cement his legacy and become a club legend will end up being remembered for the manner in which he essentially left the club.
Plenty of Leeway
Loga had been accorded plenty of leeway by the club. When he demanded a significant salary hike , he got an 80% raise. He was allowed to return home for lengthy periods. And at one time he lobbied for the position of Harambee Stars coach even while still coaching Gor Mahia. One person who might be happy to see Loga leave is Adel Amrouche, the national team coach who had lobbed several accusations at the Croatian coach including the claim that Loga was trying to undermine him. Here however Amrouche was completely wrong. No coach releases players when a big game is coming up.
The club officials have indicated that Bobby Ogolla will take over as coach. It is not clear whether this is on an interim basis or not. It is not clear either whether they will get him an assistant which is crucial. And there are several qualified assistants available in the country.
Fans who are excited with the win against Karuturi last weekend have been pushing for “Sir Bobby” to take charge on a full time basis. This author thinks fans should not get carried away. Bobby himself pushed for the hiring of a foreign coach when he was asked to step in after Anaba Awono was fired. In fact Bobby understands the pressure that comes with being coach of this team. He is a club legend who is beloved by fans who saw him play and even those who have been regaled with stories of his heroic performances for the club. However he will be under constant pressure from fans.
There is no doubt that a qualified foreign coach almost always makes a huge difference. One need only look at the impact that Loga had when he first arrived and even Jan Koops, Eymael and Mike Friday the coach of the Kenya sevens team who took Kenya from mediocre to world beating. Long term the club ought to consider hiring another foreign coach. The only question is when. And when it is done, the transition should be done in such a way to to disrupt the current flow of the team.