Story by Muroro Pacho
In what will be the last match of a glorious 2013 season, Gor Mahia will play Kenya defence forces side Ulinzi warriors on Saturday at Afraha . The match kicks off at 15:00 hours.
This match is reminiscent of the 1983 season in many ways. Exactly thirty years ago in 1983, Gor Mahia clinched the league with two matches to spare. They had beaten AFC 1-0 at City stadium on October 20, a win which enabled them to win the league.On that occassion it was Sammy Onyango who finished off a move by Abdallah Shebe and Gideon Hamisi. It was a ferocious groundshot that left Abbas stranded in the AFC goal. This year Kogalo won the league by beating Sofapaka 1-0. And this time it was Sserunkuma who finished off a move by Wanyonyi and Oboya. And this time it was ferocious rising shot that went in via the crossbar.
Thirty years ago their last match was against Scarlet FC which like Ulinzi, was the pre-eminent Kenya defence forces team. In those days, there was a KDF team in each of the major army Barracks. Scarlet were the top team and finished second in the league in 1983. The match against Scarlet was also played at Afraha.
Also that year, Gor Mahia was experiencing a mini drought because the last time they had won the league was four years earlier in 1979. In the intervening period, Gor Mahia had won the CECAFA cup twice in 1980 and 1981.
However there was a sting caused by not winning the league. In this era as well Gor Mahia has won several trophies in the past few years including the FKF cup and the KPL Top 8. But the sting of not winning the league had left the fans on tenterhooks.
And finally, 1983 was the first season of British coach and Arsenal legend Len Julians who arrived to replace Jerry Imbo after Gor Mahia had started the league in disastrous fashion. This year too, Gor Mahia are coached by another British coach in Bobby Williamson who also arrived mid season. And whereas club legend Bobby Ogolla was a defensive mainstay in the 1979 to 1987 teams, he is now an assistant coach.
Starting in 1983, Gor Mahia won the league three times in a row and Kogalo fans will be hoping that this is harbinger of good things to come. Len Julians was keen to sign young players and turn them into superstars. It is he who created the foundation for the team that won the Africa cup in 1987. Williamson too has shown that he is not afraid of giving young players a chance. And unlike the previous coach, he seems to have a longer term perspective and is more eager to work with youth. This bodes well for the team.
On that occasion in 1983 however, Gor Mahia lost 1-2. In fact after clinching the league, the players lost motivation and lost their last two games against Kenya Breweries and Scarlet. To mitigate this Williamson should consider fielding players who have a lot to prove. I am talking players like Angelo Okumu, Joel Bataro, Wanyonyi Joseph, Gaucho and even veterans like Wekesa and Anguyo who are keen to prove their worth after being sidelined.