When Kenya went to the Africa Nations cup in 1988, Kogalo supplied 10 out of 22 of the players on the squad. Never before and not since then has one club supplied almost half of the Kenya national team. It was only a few months after Gor Mahia had won the Africa cup winners cup in grand style after beating Esperance of Tunisia.
The Kogalo players who were named to the team were goalkeeper David Ochieng, defenders Paul Ochieng, Tobias Ocholla and Austin Oduor, midfielders Charles Otieno, George Odembo, John Okello “Zangi”, George Onyango and strikers Peter Dawo and Sammy Onyango. It would have been 11 Kogalo players had Abbas Magongo not been controversially dropped days before the tournament much to the chagrin of Kenya fans. Most impressive was the call up of the youthful Paul Ochieng has just joined from Mumias but despite his youth had made an immediate impact in the club. Kenya had just toured Brazil to play top Brazilian sides and John Okello “Zangi” had been named the most outstanding Kenya player by a panel of journalists.
On Thursday, new Harambee stars coach Henri Michel named a squad of 28 players to the Harambee stars camp in preparation for upcoming assignments. The squad includes 7 Kogalo players which reflects the fact that Gor Mahia has been in excellent form during the second leg of the league. This is a far cry from the same time last year when Collins Okoth “Gattuso” was the only Gor Mahia player called up.
Earning first call ups are defender Solomon Nasio along with Chris Wekesa and Donald Mosoti. Returning to the national team is skipper Jerim Onyango who has been in imperious form. A far cry from the early part of the year when he seemed shaky. Competition between the goalkeepers seems to have sharpened him.
Also returning is Moses Odhiambo who has been in and out of the national team since as far back as 2005 or 2006 during Bernard Lama’s brief tenure. The versatile Anthony Akumu who is rounding back into the form that saw him earn trials in Denmark has also been recalled. Rama Salim will hope to take his sensational form in the league to the national team.
Its not quite 1988 yet but Kogalo slowly surely returning to the glory days that are referenced in the popular cheer song “Ndalo machon” by ardent supporters of the club.