Kogalo fans heaved a sigh of relief when Collins Okoth “Gattuso” made a return from suspension during the midweek match against Sofapaka. Despite the two week layoff, Okoth played very well holding his own against the more illustrious Sofapaka midfield with Titus Mulama and others. He has been suspended for indiscipline.
He did not attend the training sessions on time and did nothing in regardsto correcting his behavior.
According to Coach Zedekiah Otieno he was surprised of the Okoths behavior.
“Discipline is paramount for any player to be successful and we have spoken with the player several times but he refuses to listen to our advice so I had to ask him to stay home until we decide his fate” the coach was further quoted saying.
Collins Okoth vs Nairobi City stars
In past years, there were several cases of indiscipline some of which would make Gattuso’s foibles look like childs play. Flash back to April of 1982. Gor Mahia were pitted against Dynamo De Fimia of Madagascar in the first round of the Africa Champions cup. In the first leg played at the City stadium, Gor Mahia inexplicably lost 2-3. Gideon Hamisi and Andrew Obunga scored for Kogalo. All was not lost however because in those days, Kogalo’s continental away record was excellent and many fans expected them to turn the table.
Trouble started when Gor Mahia were to go into residential camp to prepare for the second leg. Club officials made the decision to house the players at Lenana high school. Kogalo players were expecting alternate accommodations. Upon arrival at Lenana, players refused to alight from the bus. A day later, players turned up for training at their regular training ground. Officials arrived at the ground, issued threats and asked the players who were willing to relocate to Lenana to step to one side. None did. The trip to Madagascar was thus cancelled as Kogalo could not raise a team. On April 17, Mike Ogolla, Andrew Obunga, Charles Ondiek and George Ayuka were singled out as ring leaders and suspended for 3 years. Nahashon Oluoch were suspended for 1 year. Co captains, George Otieno “Solo” and Sammy Owino were reprimanded and relieved of their captaincy duties. 13 other players were issued warning letters. Fans congregated at Gill house which in those days was the pseudo-headquarters of Gor Mahia. The fans cheered Chairman Zack Mbori for the action. The players considered responsible were heckled by fans at various Nairobi pubs. CAF imposed a hefty fine on Gor Mahia.
Flash forward to 1983 and this time Kogalo were in the Cup winners cup, first round match against Vital O of Bururundi. Gor Mahia had won the first leg played away in Bujumbura winning 2-1 with goals from Abdallah Shebe and a scorching freekick from Bobby Ogolla. Gor Mahia were expected to easily win the return leg in Nairobi. Instead they inexplicably went down 0-3. Fans had never seen Kgolao play such a lackadaisical game. Irate fans demanded the resignation of Chairman Zack Mbori. Fans were pictured by Nation newspapers carrying former chairman Peter Opar shoulder high and demanding his return. Cartoons subversive against Zack Mbori appeared in local dailies. Opar later explained that he had no intention of returning and that he had been abducted by a section of fans.
When the dust settled, club officials claimed that four players who had been suspended in 1982 had infiltrated the camp and instigated a rebellion. As a result, Mike Ogolla “Machine” , Andrew Obunga, Charles Ondiek and George Ayuka were expelled from the club. Nahashon Oluoch “Lule” and George Yoga were given a reprive. However Lule had already gone to the USA on a football scholarship. George Yoga had disappeared from the football scene never to be heard from again. Former Chairman David Opar was also implicated, a charge which he vehemently denied. The expelled players accused Mbori of being divisive, flouting club rules and of demanding personal loyalty from players.
“Bad Boy” Andrew Obunga receiving the trophy from Minister Jeremiah Nyaga
Flash forward to 1986. Gor Mahia faced arch rivals AFC Leopards at the City stadium. At half-time, Gor Mahia led 2-0 thanks to a double by Sammy Onyango. Fans were dancing and singing. In the second half however, Gor Mahia inexplicabley conceded 3 goals and lost. After the match, it emerged that some Kogalo players had been bribed by AFC Leopards chairman, Alfred Sambu. Tirus Omondi and John Okello “Zangi” were given lengthy suspensions. Bobby Ogolla and Abbas Magongo were given shorter suspensions.
John Okello “Zangi” was to be expelled from the club in 1988 by then chairman Douglas Odolla. Zangi was an outspoken player who often spoke his mind. In this case he was said to be complaining that certain players were getting higher allowances which were unwarranted. Zangi later joined arch rivals AFC Leopards and at one point had to run for dear life when confronted by Gor Mahia fans at City stadium.
In 1991, the talented Felix Otieno fell out with coach Len Julians. He left the club in a huff and said that Gor Mahia coach Len Julians who at the time was famous for grooming players, had contributed nothing to his development. Felix was an exceptionally talented player. Far more talented than his well known brother “Bernard Otieno “Zico” of Kenya Breweries. But his indiscipline hindered his career.
Felix Otieno in action against his brother Bernard Otieno “Zico”
Another talented player from that era was Mike Otieno. He had joined the club as an eager 18 year old in 1988. Otieno was quick and strong and often accelerated past befuddled defenders unable to match his quickness off the block. His crosses were exquisite and often led to goals. Mike was so good that he would have ended up in Europe. But his penchant for missing training hindered his career and often led to injuries. He would often disappear from the club for months, only to return out of shape. So when he was appointed Kogalo coach a few years back, yours truly had to laugh.
Heres hoping that Gattuso has learned his lesson and his discipline problems will not rise to the levels seen in past years.
Story by Willy Chopa