Gor Mahia turn attention to league

With the below par CECAFA campaign behind them, Gor Mahia will now turn attention to the local league which happens to be their last hope for a title this season.

Coach Bobby Williamson has said the team is putting CECAFA in their rear-view mirror and focusing on the next league game.

“We have put what happened in Rwanda behind us and are focusing on the task ahead. We want to battle hard to retain the league title,” said Williamson who guided K’Ogalo to winning their first league title in 18 years last season.

“Of course we are all disappointed with the performance we posted in Rwanda. There are some matches that we should have won given the dominance we enjoyed but we have picked so much positives from the tournament which we hope will be of great benefit for us in the league,” he said to the Nation.

Williamson stressed the need to stay positive and realize that they are not at the top of the league.

“You cannot count points you have not yet won, and as it stands Tusker are on top of the league table. But of great consolation is that they have played three matches more and are only two points ahead of us.”

Bruno vows to apply lessons

New signing defender Charles Bruno though dissapointed with the CECAFA campaign has said that the team learned some important lessons.

“I am happy at the chances we got but disappointed that we didn’t advance but we pick a lot of positives from the tournament which will be pivotal as we turn our focus to defending the league title.” he said to futaa.com

Bruno also saw some positives especially with regard to their performance against APR which beat Gor Mahia thoroughly in 2009

“Things did not go much as we had hoped for but generally as a team we tried our best though we feel we could have done much better. Most people didn’t believe in us more so in the APR game but they were shocked at what we pulled only for bad luck to see it end in a draw.”

Crucial stage

The league is at a crucial stage. The next two weeks they have four matches in a space of 12 days. After facing Sony, they will only rest for four days before taking on KCB at the same venue.

Five days later they will host Ulinzi Stars again at City Stadium before clashing with Bandari on September.

The potential title decider will be played in September 14 when Gor Mahia face league leaders Tusker at Kasarani.

Williamson knows that things will not be easy.

“I said that the CECAFA tournament came at the wrong time. Now we have a busy schedule ahead of us and I just hope we will avoid injuries. If we come out of the next three weeks unscathed, it will be great to the team and to the fans.”

This comes at a time when there are unverified rumours of a go slow at the Gor Mahia camp due to non-payment of allowances.

There is also the fact that some players are beset by injuries, specifically Patrick Oboya and Innocent Mutiso.

Fan Support

As Charles Bruno said, fan support is crucial to the players.

“We did not have as many fans there as we are used to back here but of course we are thankful for the few who stood with us there and at home, he said.”

Once again as has been said on this column before, fan support will be crucial. Fans will need to invest time, money and moral support in the club. These next two weeks could make or break the league campaign. If you are a true Gor Mahia follower then this is your time to show it.

Gor Mahia 2 APR 2

Gor Mahia fought valiantly to draw 2-2 with APR of Rwanda. APR dominated the match and had taken a 22nd minute lead through  through Baptiste Mugiraneza.

Gor Mahia came into the game more in the second half. The introduction of Dan Sserunkuma for Eric Ochieng spurred Kogalo as they went forward in search of an equalizer. The equalizer  came in the 60th minute via Geoffrey Kizito. It came from a free-kick which David Owino took and Kizito scored from the rebound.

Gor Mahia were now dominating and threatening the APR goal as  Timothy Otieno blasted wide from close range.

Williamson also blamed his attackers for failing to capitalize on a few chances that came their way. “It’s a game of chances and when we fail to utilize chances we create, our opponents will do that even with the few chances they get to punish us.

“That’s what has been happening and like we’ve seen in our last matches, we failed to make use of many chances we had in first half. Those are matches that we would have won but now we have ourselves to blame. Disappointing indeed.”

As Gor Mahia continued to press forward, they were rewarded with a  second goal when Walusimbi scored via a direct freekick. At this point, Gor Mahia probably should have packed the bus.

In the 85th minute, Dan Sserunkuma scored but was adjudged to have fouled the goalkeeper. It was debatable call from the Tanzanian referee as sserunkuma appeared to have latched onto a loose ball that was not handled properly by the keeper.

A 92nd minute goal by Barnabe Mubumbvi of APR squared matters and eliminated Gor Mahia from the 2014 CECAFA cup.

Coach Bobby Williamson once again lamented lack of concentration in the defence that gifted APR the second goal.

Gor Mahia coach Bobby Williamson admitted once again that lack of concentration at the back had cost the team. “We were cruising to a very important victory but our defenders were costly yet again.” said Williamson to goal.com.

It was a creditable performance against a team that currently leads the Rwandese league, a team that beat Gor Mahia comprehensively in 2009 and eliminated Tusker in 2011, A team that is directly funded by Rwandese president Kagame. But still not enough to salvage the tournament. With three teams already on six points in group B, Gor Mahia are now out of the 2014 CECAFA cup. Their last match against Djibouti Telecom is a formality.

Kizito named MVP

Midfielder “Baba” Kizito who scored the equalizing goal was named man of the match according to futaa.com.  “I really don’t know what to say because that was just close enough but we lost out in the last minutes. That is however the nature of this game and we shall keep on pushing and hoping for better days ahead, he said.

Gor Mahia Line-up

Jerim Onyango. 5. Musa Mohammed. 18. Harun Shakava. 15. David Owino. 2. Godfrey Walusimbi. 3. Baba Kizito. 17. Eric Ochieng (Dan Sserunkuma)  6. Collins Okoth. 11. George Odhiambo . 9. Timothy Otieno. 19. Daniel Onyango.

Subs: 12. David Juma. 20. Joseph Kariuki. 13. Bruno Charles. 8. Dan Sserunkuma. 7. Simon Mburu. 16. Arthur Ssemazzi. 14. Kennedy Opiyo

 

Gor Mahia determined to fight for quarter-final place

With Gor Mahia staring early elimination from the 2014 CECAFA club cup, the players and officials still have enough resolve in them to keep fighting.  New signing Arthur Ssemazzi has stated that the team will fight to the very end and do whatever they can do to ensure a quarter-final place.

“We are determined than never before and we are well aware of what that game means to our chances,” Semazzi told Kawowo Sports.

“We understand a good result will put us back into the group mathematics and we shall go for it,” Semazzi who has so far featured in both losses as a substitute stressed.

On why the team has not done well so far, Ssemazi stated that the players have done their best but results simply have not come.

“The boys have put their bodies on the line and the togetherness in camp is unrivaled but good results have just eluded us. To me, it’s down to luck that we are in such a situation,” he argued.

John Pesa echoes Ssemazi sentiments

Vice Chairman and leader of the travelling delegation John Pesa also re-iterated that Gor Mahia are still not out of it.

“This competition is like a marathon. It is never won in the first minutes, but until the final kilometre. Mathematically therefore, we still have a chance, I believe we will sail through” , he said the the CECAFA website

“The team has been given all the support, they played well in their second game, but luck was not with us. Our best striker Dan Sserunkuma had a bad day at work and wasted three clear, one-on-one opportunities he had with the opponent’s goalkeeper, he added.”

“We also hit the side post and the cross bar. The one chance they had was a goal and that changed everything.”

To be assured of a quarter-final place, Gor Mahia need to win both their remaining matches and hope that results of other matches go their way.

Current Group B standings

 

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
Kampala C.C.A. 3 2 0 1 4 3 +1 6
Djibouti Télécom 1 1 0 0 2 1 +1 3
A.P.R. 1 1 0 0 1 0 +1 3
Atlético Olympic 3 1 0 2 1 2 ?1 3
Gor Mahia 2 0 0 2 1 1 0 0

 

Gor  Mahia will take on APR of Rwanda on Friday August 15 then take on Djibouti Telecom on August 17.

 Rama is welcome Back says Ngala

Gor Mahia eputy secretary Ronald Ngala has indicated that Gor Mahia have no issues with Rama Salim and that the order is open for him should he wish to return to the club.

“It is disappointing that he failed to get a club in South Africa and now we are sorry for him. We advised him to extend his contract with us before he left but he declined. However, we are still ready to welcome him back and keep him till the end of the season.  “He had a good striking partnership with Dan Ssserunkuma and we still appreciate this and would like to see him again doing the same.” said Ngala to goal.com

Aside from the South African trials, Rama’s stint with a Qatari second tier side also ended badly when he was suspended for six months for fighting a team-mate who fouled him during training.

Gor Mahia lose to Atletico

Gor Mahia are now staring at an early and ignominous exit from the 2014 CECAFA cup after they lost 0-1 to Atletico of Burundi.

Report courtesy of goal.com

K’Ogalo who lost opening match to Ugandan side KCCA must now win their remaining two Group matches to be assured to progressing in competition

Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia are facing early elimination from Cecafa Kagame Cup after going down 1-0 to Atletico Olympic of Burundi in their second match on Monday.

Gor Mahia had lost opening match to Kampala City Council (KCC) 2-1 and must now win their remaining two Group matches to be assured of progressing in the regional competition.

Alexis Hakizimana scored the all important goal that that now leaves K’Ogalo with a mountain to climb in preliminary matches.

Gor Mahia coach Bobby Williamson admitted afterwards that the team is now facing an up hill task to remain in competition. “We are not out yet but losing two matches in a row is very disappointing.

“We are now forced to wait and see how our Group opponents perform to know our fate. It is not good at all when you have to depend on your opponents to decide your fate in a game of football.”

The Scot made four changes to starting eleven with defender Godfrey Walusimbi, who was sidelined due to illness, being replaced by Kennedy Opiyo, Bruno Charles coming in for Musa Mohammed, George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo going out for Joseph Kariuki and Simon Mburu starting in place of Erick Ochieng’.

Gor Mahia threatened twice in opening 20 minutes with Joseph Kariuki and Dan Sserunkuma coming close but were denied by Atletico goalkeeper Kandolo Akimana.

Sserunkuma and Timothy Otieno kept threatening Atletico but nothing came out of the attacks. Otieno was denied by keeper Akimana in 34th minute after being put through by Sserunkuma.

Atletico’s goal came in 72nd minute when a blunder by Collins ‘Gattuso’ Okoth allowed Hakimana to beat Jerim Onyango with a low shot. Gor Mahia will play Rwandese champions APR on Friday before concluding preliminary fixtures against Telecom of Somalia on Sunday.

The Kenyan side can still advance to quarter-finals if they win their next two matches as three teams will qualify from their group. Meanwhile, former AFC Leopards’ striker Allan Wanga scored as Sudanse side El Merreikh hit Banadir 4-0 in a one-sided contest also played at Nyamirambo Stadium.

Ahmed El Basha, Malim Mohammed Traore and Serge Wawa grabbed the other goals as El Merreikh revived their hopes of progressing having lost opening match to Rwandase side Police.

It was second defeat for Benadir, who as well might have kissed tournament goodbye, having lost 5-0 to Vital ‘O’ of Burundi in opener.

Gor Mahia: Fredrick Onyango -GK (captain), 13. Bruno Charles, 18. Harun Shakava, 15. David Owino, 14. Kennedy Opiyo, 3. Geoffrey Kizito,  20. Joseph Kariuki, 6. Collins Okoth, 7. Simon Mburu, 9. Timothy Otieno, 8. Dan Sserunkuma.

Reserves: 12. David Juma – GK, 17. Eric Ochieng’. 4.Kevin Oluoch. 5. Musa Mohammed. 19. Daniel Onyango. 11. George Odhiambo. 16. Arthur Ssemazzi.

Gor Mahia go down to KCCA in CECAFA opener

courtesy of futaa.com

Kenya Premier League [KPL] champions Gor Mahia  have lost 1-2 to Ugandan KCCA in the CECAFA Kagame Cup group stage match played on Friday 8 August at Amahoro Stadium.

Dan Sserunkuma’s early goal put Gor Mahia ahead before KCCA came from behind to confirm their lead.

Dan Sserunkuma never stop scoring

Gor Mahia started the match on a high note with a clear intention of emerging winners.

This was confirmed in the 27th minute when Musa Mohammed made a cross from the right flank to find the genius  Dan Sserunkuma who unleashed a shot from inside the box to make the first goal for Gor Mahia.

In the 29th minute, Baba Kizito steered a counter attack with Timothy Otieno’s pass to score a goal which was nullified for offside.

 

Early substitution

KCCA coach sensed danger and made his early substitution in the 38th minute bringing in Brian Majwega for Bengo in a bid to change matters.

Gor made several attempts to widen their lead but KCCA’s push never allowed for change making  KCCA go into the tunnel one goal behind.

KCCA dominance

KCCA came into the second half more energetic to ensure a complete ball control giving way to Brian Majwega to equalize in the 51st minute before Brian Umuny confirmed  the lead  in the 88th minute.

Williamson shocked

Williamson expressed his surprise at the loss

“I knew this team and we had studies it but it was a bit of a shock to lose this one, he said”.

Gor Mahia will need to win one game out if their remaining two to have any chance of getting a place in the quarter finals. To assure a quarter final place, they need at least 4 points. Williamson will need to rack his brains to come up with a strategy to overcome APR of Rwanda in the next game.

 

Gor Mahia squad

Starting X1: 

1.Fredrick Onyango. 5. Musa Mohammed. 18. Harun Shakava. 15. David Owino. 2. Godfrey Walusimbi. 3. Baba Kizito. 17. Eric Ochieng. 6. Collins Okoth. 11. George Odhiambo . 9. Timothy Otieno. 8. Dan Sserunkuma.

Subs: 12. David Juma. 20. Joseph Kariuki. 4.Kevin Oluoch. 13. Bruno Charles. 19. Daniel Onyango. 7. Simon Mburu. 16. Arthur Ssemazzi. 23. Joel Bataro. 14. Kennedy Opiyo

Gor Mahia take on KCCA

On thursday Gor Mahia held a training session at Amahoro stadium

Coach Bobby Williamson has named the squad that will take on KCCA in Gor Mahia’s opening encounter against KCCA today. Interestingly, he has opted for an attacking formation that includes Blackberry, Sserunkuma and Timothy Otieno all playing upfront. This is a formation he has not tried before. It will be interesting to see how it works.

This tournament is important to redeem the fortunes of Kenya football which has taken a tumble in 2014 at both club and national level. Coach Williamson recognizes the magnitude of this game.

“This is a big game for us and like in any other match, our aim is to win. Taking up our chances in the game will go down well with us. This is a game of chances and if we get them, we will utilize them as we look for maximum point”s, the tactician said.

Williamson also recognizes that the Ugandan side will be a tough nut to crack especially since they demolished AFC Leopards 3-0 in the Mapinduzi cup then eliminated Tusker on penalties.

“We are new to each other because we don’t play in the same league but that doesn’t mean we fear them, no. We respect them just like any other team and we don’t underrate them in anyway. They have no idea of what we are capable of doing and neither do we,”  he added

But Gor Mahia will be relying on their Ugandan trio who are very familiar with KCCA including left back Dan Walusimbi . “I know their playing style and what they are capable of doing on the pitch but then our calmness, concentration and total commitment will see us through. We know they are well prepared for us but that’s part of preparation where we are also well prepared for them”, he told the club’s official site.

Line-up

1.Jerim Onyango. 5. Musa Mohammed. 18. Harun Shakava. 15. David Owino. 2. Godfrey Walusimbi. 3. Baba Kizito. 17. Eric Ochieng. 6. Collins Okoth. 11. George Odhiambo . 9. Timothy Otieno. 8. Dan Sserunkuma.

Subs:

12. David Juma. 20. Joseph Kariuki. 4.Kevin Oluoch. 13. Bruno Charles. 19. Daniel Onyango. 7. Simon Mburu. 16. Arthur Ssemazzi. 23. Joel Bataro. 14. Kennedy Opiyo

Head Coach. Bobby Williamson. Asst Coach Frank Ouna. GK Coach: Iddi Salim

Gor Mahia will now play Atletico of Burundi

Burundi Champions Flambeau de l’Est and Coffee of Ethiopia have pulled out of the upcoming CECAFA Club Championships, due to run from August 8 to August 24, in Kigali.

CECAFA Secretary General Nicholas Musonye confirmed that the two teams will not be taking a part in the regional tournament. Coffee, who won the Ethiopian league last season, have been replaced by Adamma FC, while Flambeau de L’est’s place goes to Atletico, who are coached by former Mukura VS head coach Cedric Kaze.

This means Gor Mahia will now play Atletico instead of Flambeau. Atletico are currently sixth in the Burundian league. In 2013 they finished second behind Flambeau. Their last league game was against Vital O. It ended 0-0. Atletico have two players in the Burundi national team, midfielder Pierre Kwizera and goalkeeper Yvan Rugumandiye. The Burundians can be tough and considering that Burundi eliminated Kenya from the 2013 CHAN, Gor Mahia must be wary.

Tanzania’s Yanga have  also been barred from participating in this year’s Cecafa Kagame club championship for lining up a weakened side. CECAFA officials have since replaced them with local rivals and current champions Azam.

Meanwhile KCCA coach George Nsimbe continues to express confidence that his side will beat Gor Mahia.

“I am not scared of the Kenyans. We are prepared for the competition,” said Nsimbe

In an earlier interview, Nsimbe had said he was not worried about Gor Mahia

“I believe our group is tough but Gor Mahia is not a problem to me. I have been watching the Kenyan league on TV and I know how to confront them. APR is the problem because you know clubs have evolved their approach to playing,” Nsimbe said.

One KCCA Player Gor Mahia will have to watch is striker Brian Umony.

This is an opportunity for Gor Mahia to redeem Kenya football which has hit upon hard times at national and club level.

Group A:

Rayon Sport (Rwanda), Yanga (Tanzania), Adamma FC (Ethiopia), Atlbara (South Sudan) and KMKM (Zanzibar).

Group B:

APR (Rwanda), KCC (Uganda), Atletico (Burundi) Gor Mahia (Kenya) and Telecom (Djibouti)

Group C:

VitalO (Burundi), El Merreikh (Sudan), Police (Rwanda) Benadir (Somalia).

Method of qualification

(Group A 1,2,3, Group B 1,2,3 Group C 1,2 qualifies to quarter finals

Blackberry included in Gor Mahia CECAFA squad

Gor Mahia are slated to leave on Tuesday as they travel to Kigali, Rwanda to participate in the 2014 CECAFA club cup also known as the Kagame cup. The team will leave Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 9:30pm for an hours flight to Kigali-Rwanda.

Included in the squad is George Odhiambo “Blackberry” whose name was initially missing when the squad was first announced 10 days ago. As a striker, Blackberry needs more game time to regain his confidence.

The squad is fairly decent albeit not as strong as they have been in the last two years. In particular the play making area does not seem to have a player who can create chances  like Rama Salim or Moses Odhiambo did or wreak havoc on defenses the way that Kevin Omondi did especially now that Innocent Mutiso is out injured. Patrick Oboya could be counted on to be playmaker but of late, his fitness levels are such that he likely cannot play 90 minutes.

The good news is that Dan Ssserunkuma has been inluded in the squad.  There were reports a few days ago that he would be leaving for trials in South Africa as early as Monday.  Against KCC, Gor Mahia will rely on their Ugandan quartet which is very familiar with KCC.

Coach Bobby Williamson maintains that though he has been appointed national team coach, he is still committed to Gor Mahia.

“I’m still a Gor coach and I will be travelling with the team to Cecafa. It will be an honour and privilege to manage a country but as of now I’m still committed in Gor.

“I’m not focused on anything else apart from Gor, it’s up to the federation to approach my club and ask permission if they want to speak to me and we will take it from there but for now I’m focusing on what I’m doing in Gor,” Williamson told capital sports.

All in all its a chance for this group to stamp their names into the history books of the club and in folklore the way the 1985, 1981 and 1980 squads did.

Goalkeepers: Jerim Onyango, David Otieno Juma, Joel Bataro.

Defenders: Godfrey Walusimbi, Kevin Oluoch, Musa Mohammed, Haroun Shakava, Kennedy Ayong, David Owino, Charles Bruno.

Midfielders: Daniel Onyango Adhoch, Joseph Kariuki, Geofrey Kizito, Erick Ochieng’, Collins ‘Gattuso’ Okoth, Simon Lela.

Forwards: Dan Sserunkuma, Patrick Oboya, Arthur Ssemazzi, Timothy Otieno, George Odhiambo.

Officials: John Pesa (Head of Delegation), Robert Williamson (Head coach), Frank Ouna (Team Manager), Abdul Iddi Salim (Keeper Trainer) and Fred Otieno (Team Doctor).

1985: The last time Gor Mahia won CECAFA

Story by Muroro Pacho
Milimani Strathmore

 

Background

Gor Mahia qualified for the 1985 CECAFA club cup by virtue of having won the national league in 1984. The tournament was to be held in Sudan in January of 1985  Due to the Zamalek fiasco of 1984, Gor Mahia had been suspended from continental football for two years. The CECAFA club cup was this Gor Mahia’s only opportunity to play international football. However before the tournament started, there were ramblings among some officials that Gor Mahia should not even be allowed to play in the CECAFA club cup. After much negotiation, Gor Mahia finally received permission from both CECAFA and CAF that they could play. However the six players who had been banned from international football due to the Zamalek fiasco would not be allowed to play. The six were Abbas Magongo, George Onyango, Abbey Nassur, Abdallah Shebe, George Otieno “Solo” and Peter Otieno “Bassanga”. All were key players. In addition, British coach Len Julians, who was also suspended by CAF would not only be banned from the bench but was also barred from travelling to Sudan.  With six key players suspended and without their coach, no one gave Gor Mahia much of a chance.  AFC Leopards had qualified for the CECAFA cup as defending champions. They had beaten Gor Mahia 2-1 at the finals of the 1984 CECAFA cup in an all Kenyan final. In fact AFC had beaten Gor Mahia three times in 1984. It was known as the Nyaya stadium jinx. Gor Mahia fans complained that they could never beat AFC at Nyayo because AFC witchdoctors had buried artifacts at the ground during the construction of the stadium.


In those days the Mashemeji derby always filled the stadia. This was the 1984 CECAFA cup final at Nyayo stadium

Interestingly, Gor Mahia always outplayed AFC during these games and knocked the ball around confidently leaving AFC to chase shadows. But AFCs game was straightfoward: As soon as they got the ball, they played long balls to their speedy forwards: Masiga, Kadenge, Amwayi and Ben Musuku. All had breathtaking speed. Kadenge in particular could have represented Kenya in the 100 metres. His uncle and aunt are John Anzrah and Esther Kavaya, both of whom represented Kenya in the sprints and had tried to encourage Kadenge to take up athletics.  The AFC stategy of playing long balls to their speedy forwards was derided by Gor Mahia fans as “Clearing and Forwarding”. But it was bloody effective against Gor Mahia in 1984.  Gor Mahia had won the national league comfortably in 1984 scoring an incredible 86 goals from 34 games. Fans would joke that Gor Mahia were playing the 4-4-4 system because they scored 4 goals in several games. Still fans had to live with the fact that they lost to AFC three times in a row.  And had won the CECAFA cup in 1983 and 1984. Most pundits expected them to carry the day once again in the 1985 CECAFA club cup. They had a clear psychological edge over Gor Mahia.

 

 

During the transfer season, Gor Mahia went about recruiting new players to shore up the squad that had been badly weakened. In came George Odembo “Nyangi” a youngster who had played starring roles in the Kakamega high school squads that won multiple national schools championships. He was expected to step into Magongo’s shoes which to most fans seemed impossible. Another Nondescript player signed was William Obwaka. He was the younger brother to talented Gor Mahia winger and mazy dribbler Enock Obwaka. He had previously played for Hakati sportiff a team from Kaloleni estate where the Obwaka’s grew up. William had trials with AFC Leopards but AFC coach Robert Kiberu rejected him because he was not fast or big like a typical AFC winger preferred by Kiberu. He then went to try his luck at Gor Mahia where he was welcomed with both hands. At the time, William was a student of medicine at the University of Nairobi.

Veteran Mike Adede who was in semi-retirement was called back to shore up the squad. The most important signing Gor Mahia made was Swaleh Ochieng Oswayo. The left fullback had been a national team player while playing for Re-Union. He was signed specifically to neutralize the speedy and strong AFC wingers. Ochieng Oswayo was spartan like in his approach to football. He was a fitness fanatic and was known to jog from his home, a distance of 25 km in order to attend training sessions. He was also an avid weightlifter. He would play a crucial role in reversing the fortunes of Gor Mahia against AFC in 1985.  Striker Goro Oronge was signed in a bid to replace Abdallah Shebe who was also under suspension. Oronge’s father James Oronge had been a legendary player for Harambee stars in the early 1960s and would later become player coach of the national team. But Goro never quite came close to emulating his father’s achievements.

 

On the plane to Sudan : Pierre with William Obwaka. Behind them is Zangi & Janabi. Far behind is breakdance

Group stage

Gor Mahia were placed in group A based in Khartoum while arch rivals AFC were in group B based in Wad Medani. Gor Mahia started out slow with a draw 1-1 against Simba of Dar es Salaam before beating Limbe Leaf of Malawi 3-0 and hosts Al Hilal 3-1. They ended their group matches with a 1-1 draw against Nakivubo Villa of Uganda.  AFC on the other hand looked to be in imperious form. They won all their group games including an emphatic 4-0 win over Zambian champions Nkana Red Devils. They had also thrashed Marine of Somalia 5-0.

 

Semi Final and Final

Given their emphatic wins in the group stage coupled with the fact that they had not dropped a point, AFC were now the clear favourites. In the first semi-final, Gor Mahia squeezed a 2-1 win over hosts El Merreikh of Sudan in Khartoum. AFC beat Simba of Tanzania 1-0 in Wad Medani to set up an all Kenyan final. This was the 3rd time in 5 years that the CECAFA club cup was an all Kenyan final. Such was the dominance of Kenya in those days. Impressive when you consider that in those days, Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe were permanent CECAFA members.  AFC arrived in Khartoum and were booked in the same hotel as Gor Mahia. Upon their arrival at the hotel, they found Gor Mahia players by the pool warming. Some AFC players would later say that Gor Mahia players looked very intimidated, almost shaking when they saw AFC players arrive. And who would’nt. AFC were the defending champions and were in devastating form.  The game was played under floodlights and was transmitted via radio starting around 8pm Kenya time. In those days, the mashemeji derby was enormous. Almost every radio in Kenya was tuned in to KBC radio to listen to this game. When these two teams met at Nyayo, the stadium was always full to the brim. If you arrived at the stadium at 2pm you would not find a seat. Most fans were there by 12pm, 4 hours before the game started.

Few gave Gor Mahia a chance. On Friday there was a story in the Daily Nation about a Gor Mahia fan in Garrissa town who asked the preacher to pray for Gor Mahia during the church service. Most media pundits were sure that AFC would retain the cup.  It was not to be however. Although Gor Mahia were missing six key players, they had a defensive line that is probably the best back four ever to play for Gor Mahia. In Isaiah Omondi and Swaleh Ochieng, they finally had two full backs who had enough pace to neutralize the speedy AFC wingers. In Austin Oduor and Bobby Ogolla, Gor Mahia had what is probably the best central defensive pairing ever seen in Kenya.  There were two very solid goalkeepers, Tirus Omondi “Tairero” and David Ochieng “Kamoga”, both of whom would later play for the national team. And despite missing key players in midfield due to suspensions, Gor Mahia still had John Okello “Zangi”, Gideon Hamisi.  AFC played a disjointed game compared to what they had done in the group stage. Alfred Sambu the then AFC chairman reportedly offered a huge sum of money to any AFC player who scored. It was later rumoured that this is what caused disharmony as some players tried to score even when passing would have been a better option.

Of note was the fact that Sammy Onyango who had scored in almost every match against AFC from 1982 to 1984 was not in the starting line-up. There was still an element of withcraft and superstition among fans. And there were rumblings among Gor Mahia fans in this regard. If you went to the stadium in those days you would heat some fans say in reference to Sammy Onyango : “Wuon mare otweyo Gor”. Supposedly his father had cast a spell that whenever Sammy Onyango scored against AFC, no other Gor Mahia player could score. Of course this was not true. Witchcraft was not the reason. In any case, coach Maurice Ochieng left him on the bench and did not introduce him until very late.  The man who destroyed AFC on that day was new signing and winger William Obwaka. He scored two goals one in the 35th minute and another in the 89th minute. His second goal is one which makes us wish there were video recordings of this game. Obwaka picked up the ball in the middle of the field and proceeded to dribble past 6 or 7 AFC players one at a time. He then finished with a ferocious rising shoot that hit the roof of the net leaving AFC goalkeeper Francis Lubembe stranded. After scoring, Obwaka ran back screaming so loudly that he would have raptured the ear drums of anyone close by. Perhaps it was the emotion of having been rejected by AFC after trials. The game ended 2-0 in favour of Gor Mahia.

 

Front row: Enock Obwaka, Janabi, Dr Ogutu, Makamu, Kamoga, Pierre. In the middle of the pic is William Obwaka Back row far left is Breakdance , Behind William are Zangi & Artillery, To the left of Obwaka are Mwidau and Hezborn. Far right is Bob Ogolla

The line-ups on that days were as follows:  AFC Leopards: Francis Lubembe, Mickey Weche, Aineah Isabwa (Patrick Shilasi),Henry Omondi, Josephat Murila, Keffa Tasso, Francis Kadenge, Peter Owade Zimbo, Dr JJ Masiga, Wilberforce Mulamba, Michael Amwayi.  Gor Mahia: Tairus Omondi, Isaiah Omondi, Swaleh Ochieng Oswayo, Bobby Ogolla, Austin Oduor, George Nyangi Odembo, William Obwaka, John Okello Zangi, Goro Oronge, Gedion Hamisi, Ben Oloo “breakdance”

The aftermath

When Gor Mahia won the CECAFA cup in 1985, there were celebrations among Gor Mahia fans of a magnitude that had never been before then nor since then. In every village in Nyanza province people were celebrating, dancing and singing for the entire night. In Nairobi as well, in estates all over the city, Gor Mahia fans sung and danced. Not even the Africa cup win in 1987 engendered such celebrations.  When Gor Mahia arrived back at JKIA, there was an enormous crowd of fans waiting for them. Some grabbed branches from the trees and swept the road where the minibus carrying.


Gor Mahia players upon arrival from Sudan: From Left: Kamoga, Swaleh, Makamu (in Shades), Hezborn Omollo (holding cup, Tirus Omondi

The outpouring of emotion among Gor Mahia fans was down to the fact that as mentioned above, Gor Mahia had lost to AFC three straight times. They had gone 4 years without winning the CECAFA cup meanwhile AFC had won it in 1982, 83 and 84 thanks in large part to the penalty saving exploits of Mahmoud Abbas. And finally because no one had given Gor Mahia a chance to win given the suspension of 6 key players and the absence of coach Julians.  AFC fired coach Robert Kiberu who had a succesful four years at helm. A news report suggested AFC fans in Musanda sub location where Obwaka hailed from burned his house down. Musanda shopping centre is exactly at the border between Ugenya constituency and Mumias constituency. Theareas is populated by both the Wanga people and the Jo Kager clan of Ugenya and there is a lot of intermarriage between the two groups. The concept of mashemeji is very much in play in this area and and many people here are fluent in both the Wanga language and in Dholuo. William Obwaka and his brothers are no different. Their father Elly Masakhwe is of Wanga decent and their mother Filista is a Luo.  Following his superb performance at the CECAFA cup, William Obwaka became one of the most famous people in Kenya. He would soon earn a call to the national team which he turned down since his schedule as a medical student would not let him pursue national team duties. Indeed it would soon consume him to the point that by the end of 1986, he had all but quit football.