Polack: It is not realistic to restart the league

Gor Mahia coach Steve Polack has urged the KPL officials to be realistic about the fate of the 2019-2020. According to Polack, it is not possible to restart the

league now and then start the new season in August.

Additional reporting from the Standard.

Gor Mahia head coach Steven Polack claims it is realistically ‘impossible’ for the 2019/20 Kenyan Premier League (KPL) season to be played to its conclusion.

The conclusion of the current KPL season has been thrown into doubt owing to the coronavirus that is ravaging the world.

KPL which was supposed to end on May 23 was suspended in March with Gor Mahia sitting at the top with less than ten round of matches to go.

While Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president Nick Mwendwa cancelled the league and declared Gor Mahia the champions as well as announced Nairobi City Stars’ promotion back to the topflight football in April, KPL Limited whose mandate to run the league expires on September 24 2020, have maintained that the league will not rush a decision over how this season will finish.

This is subject to a ruling by the Sports Disputes Tribunal (SDT) on the status of the current season slated for June 30

But President Uhuru Kenyatta’s recent decision to extend both the nationwide dusk- to-dawn curfew and the cessation of movement in to and out of Nairobi and Mombasa counties to June 30, has further thrown the league and FKF Betway Cup’s conclusion into doubt.

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And it is on this premise that the British-Finnish tactician has urged the concerned football authorities to make a quick decision on the fate of the current season.

“Let KPL and FKF sort themselves out. But if they say we play, we will play. I’m confident in my players and staff. So, if they say we are playing tomorrow or we are starting in a few weeks then we will start,” Polack said after receiving his delayed February coach of the month award yesterday.

“But I think they need to look at the bigger picture before they make a big decision like that because they said the new season is supposed to start in August. So, if we have to wait for the president to make the decision on June 30, then we will have to train for four to five weeks and that takes us to August.

He added: “That means, the season won’t finish until either September or October. By the rules which I have read, after the last game of your season, you need to have 60 days before the first game of the new season starts.

“So, basically that means we will start the new season in January. So, they need to take a good look at that and make the decision very quickly not only for Gor Mahia but for the whole football in Kenya.

“I don’t know what they are waiting for because this has been going on for three months now yet you tell me that you don’t have a plan A or B in case of a lock down.”

Asked about Gor Mahia plans ahead of next season’s CAF Champions League, the former Asante Kotoko coach said: “First of all, we have to look at the players’ contracts. Some of their contracts are running down, so we need to know those ones we are going to keep or release. But we need to learn from the last CAF competition, we need to strengthen our squad because it’s not easy to play in those competitions.

“Basically, from my coaching experience, we need to get stability to go forward. If you look at the big teams in the world, they don’t keep on changing ten players every year because it’s impossible.

“But if you keep doing that, I don’t care which club you are, you won’t win anything. Therefore, it is my hope that we will keep hold of most of the players we have and make a few additions for next season.”

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Polack named coach of the month

Gor Mahia coach Steve Polack finally has something to be happy about. This after he was named coach of the month for the third time.

Additional reporting from the Nation

Gor Mahia head coach Steven Polack has stocked his personal cabinet trophy once again this season after belatedly picking the February Fidelity Insurance coach of the month award.

This is the third Coach of the Month award for Polack, who joined Gor Mahia in August last year, replacing Turkish Cypriot tactician Hassan Oktay.

The award, which ought to have been issued in March, had to be deferred after coronavirus pandemic broke out in China and swept through the world halting sporting activities across the globe.

The insurer in conjunction with Sports Journalists Association took great care in awarding the Gor Mahia tactician with all health regulations issued by the government taken into account.

Polack had scooped a double last year after clinching the award in October and November.

Despite losing 3-1 to Sofapaka in the month, the English man guided the record champions to garner an unassailable 10 points courtesy of three wins and a draw.

Gor began the month with a convincing 3-0 win over Nzoia Sugar, before bowing to Sofapaka.

Their efforts to return to their winning ways were put off by Western Stima, who forced a one all draw in the third match.

However, Gor wrapped the month with identical 3-2 wins over Zoo FC and Stima to give Polack an edge over the rest.

The former Asante Kotoko coach beat youthful AFC Leopards tactician Anthony Kimani to the award. The latter guided Ingwe to gather nine points out of a possible 12 thanks to the wins recorded over Ulinzi Stars, Sofapaka and Chemelil Sugar.

Kimani would have won his first coach of the month award, but losing to Tusker by a solitary goal in the second match of the month struck the difference between him and Polack.

Veteran tactician and former Bandari technical director, Twahir Muhiddin came in third after scooping eight points. Muhiddin was serving as an interim manager following the suspension of Bernard Mwalala in January.

Bandari were however unbeaten in the month after registering one all draws to Posta Rangers and Kakamega Homeboyz, before sinking KCB(2-1) and Mathare United(3-1) in their last fixtures of the month.

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Polack: I am now surviving on personal savings

Gor Mahia coach Steve Polack who has not been paid in several months, says he is surviving on personal savings

Additional reporting from the Nation

As effects of coronavirus pandemic continues to impact negatively on sportsmen and women, Gor Mahia coach Steven Polack has revealed that he is currently surviving on his savings.

Polack said he is paying his family bills back in England from the money he has been saving in his entire coaching career.

PERSONAL SAVINGS

“What I’m feeding on and using to meet my family needs is money I started saving when I was at 35. Things are tough and you know we have not been receiving salaries because of lack of sponsorship,” Polack told Nairobi News.

The 59-year-old tactician acknowledged that not everyone can adopt the culture of saving money but urged players to try always to save something to keep them going.

“Not everyone can save because sometimes what they receive goes into all their needs but let’s try to spare something little. I’m really struggling but things would have been worse if my savings were depleted,” he added.

The Briton is however hopeful that things will change in the near future. He also thanked the government for cushioning the players during these tough times.

TOUGH TIMES

Kenyan Premier League players have been going through tough economic times as some clubs have not been paying salaries due to lack of sponsorship.

Nairobi City Stars defender Wesley Onguso is one of the players who have ventured into boda boda business so as to make ends meet.

Polack’s team is one of the clubs which have been really affected as they have not paid players salaries for the past five months.

Club chairman Ambrose Rachier recently said that the situation has forced him to talk to landlords to rescue his players from being evicted due to rent arrears.

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Steve Polack and Joash Onyango discuss their immediate future

Polack unsure of the future

Gor Mahoa coach Steve Polack says he is still committed to fulfilling his two year contract but is not sure of the immediate future.

Additional reporting from goal.com

Gor Mahia coach Steven Polack has cast doubt on his future with the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions.

The British coach, who joined K’Ogalo at the start of the 2019-20 season, has exclusively told Goal he would love to see through his two-year contract with the club, which comes to a close next season, but he was not sure if that will indeed be the case.

“I have a contract [with Gor Mahia] to the end of next season, so you know, so I am here until then for sure,” Polack told Goal on Wednesday.
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“But like I say in football you never know what is going to happen, football is completely different to any other business, and you never know what tomorrow is going to bring.”

Asked if he had received any offers from different clubs, Polack said: “I keep reading the teams who want me but nobody in this world has given me a call or have contacted me.”

Asked whether he is committed to Gor Mahia, Polack explained: “Of course yes, of course, but like I said tomorrow you will never know, the club [Gor Mahia] could tomorrow say, they don’t want me, so will I stay on if they don’t want me?

“So I just want to do my work for the best of my ability and then we can just move on from there but let’s just see how things unfold.

“The way the situation is with the coronavirus pandemic and then we have the resources, the financial struggles of the club, let us just get over this first and see where we can go from there.

“That is the best thing you know, we need to get over this because it is not easy for clubs [not Gor Mahia alone in KPL], so we need to get over the problems and then tackle the other issues later when everything is back to normal.”

The former Asante Kotoko coach guided Gor Mahia to the season curtain-raiser trophy and was on course to clinch the KPL title when the league was banned indefinitely owing to the Covid-19 outbreak.

While the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) has moved to crown Gor Mahia the champions, the KPL has insisted the fate of the league is not decided yet.

Joash Onyango denies exit rumours

Gor Mahia Vice Captain Joash Onyango has come out to deny rumours that he is headed to Simba SC of Dar es Salaam

Additional reporting from the Nation

Gor Mahia’s assistant captain, Joash ‘Berlin Wall’ Onyango, has dismissed reports that he is on his way out of the club and he is heading to Tanzania giants Simba SC.

The centre back has said nobody from Simba SC has approached him and neither is his agent Osman Ahmed aware of any interest from the Tanzanian club, known among its fans as ‘Wekundu wa Msimbazi.’

Simba SC spokesman Haji Manara was on Monday quoted by Tanzania media as saying they had singled out one Gor Mahia player whom they will sign up when the transfer window opens in August.

However, Manara didn’t reveal the name of the player with but reports indicate that the player in question could be Onyango or club captain Kenneth Muguna. Both are key players at Gor.

On Tuesday, the Kenyan international said he is only open to leaving Gor Mahia when his contracts expires in December.

“These reports are all over the media yet nobody from Simba has contacted me or my agent. I have not received any offer from them so I don’t think I am the player they are talking about,” Onyango told Nation Sport on Tuesday.

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Polack urges KPL to declare the fate of the league


Coach Steve Polack is urging the Kenya Premier League to get its act in order and declare tge fate of the 2019-2020 Kenya Premier League

Additional reporting from the Nation

Gor Mahia coach Steven Polack has told the Kenyan Premier League to show leadership by deciding the fate of the local football league instead of adopting a wait-and-see attitude.

Speaking to Nation Sport on Saturday, Polack urged the Kenyan Premier League to either make the decision to hand his club a 19th league title, or nullify the season.

Polack said it was time the league body decided the fate of the season which has seen all local football activities suspended following a ban on sports activities and social gatherings a day after Kenya recorded her first confirmed case of coronavirus on March 13. KPL suspended the top league with 10 rounds of matches remaining.

The outspoken coach downplayed the chances of the league running to conclusion following the extension of dawn to dusk curfew for another 30 days and cessation of movement in and out of Nairobi.

“I have washed my hands on the matter of the current season because it will be impossible to complete the remaining matches. As KPL meets this week, my proposal to them is to either cancel the season and hand over the title to us or nullify it,” he said yesterday.

CURFEW EXTENDED

President Uhuru Kenyatta Saturday extended the dusk to dawn curfew, but changed the timing from the initial 5am to 7pm to a new time of 4am to 9pm.
But the ban on sports activities remains in place.

“The remaining matches cannot be completed in late July yet the new season should start by late August. My focus is now on next season and not the remaining 10 matches,” he said.

The Briton agreed that either decision would evoke positive and negative reactions from different KPL clubs, more so those at the top and at the bottom of the table of standings.

He however said that as the body tasked with making decisions on such matters, KPL should not fear any backlash.

“They should not fear or engage in supremacy battles. What the president has done is for the safety of Kenyans, including footballers. KPL shouldn’t wait for another 30 days but should come out and give direction,” he added.

GOVERNING COUNCIL

On Tuesday, the league body hinted that matches could resume if the government relaxed some restrictions on movement. However, Nairobi and Mombasa counties are still under lockdown.

More than half of the KPL teams are based in Nairobi. Bandari is the only team from Mombasa.

Polack has often said that the fair way is to hand Gor Mahia the KPL title, but he would embrace any decision from KPL.

The 18-time champions Gor lead the KPL log on 54 points after 23 rounds of matches. This is seven points more than second-placed Kakamega Homeboyz who have been on the pitch 22 times.

Next week, a KPL Governing Council meeting, to be chaired by the chairman Ambrose Rachier, is expected to seal the fate of this season.

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Polack: Gor Mahia must keep players to compete in Africa

A number of key players are running out of contract and coach Steve Polack has expressed concern that if they leave, Kogallo will not be competitive in continental football next season

Additional reporting from goal.com

The British coach warns K’Ogalo to make sure they keep their best players ahead of the new season set for August
Gor Mahia coach Steven Polack has warned club management they will be going a step down should they allow their best players to leave in the coming transfer window.

K’Ogalo have already been crowned the 2019-20 Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions, a fourth straight title in a row, after Football Kenya Federation (FKF) moved to end the top-flight owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

By winning the league, Gor Mahia secured a ticket to represent the country in the Caf Champions League next year but a number of their key players have contracts running down among them defender Joash Onyango and midfielder Boniface Omondi.

Meanwhile, captain Kenneth Muguna and Tanzania duo of keeper David Mapigano and Dickson Ambundo have openly revealed they will leave the club if they get a good offer in the coming window.

It is the reason the British coach has pleaded with the club’s top brass to make sure they keep their best players so they can be able to compete with the best teams in the continent come next season.

“If they [officials] want Gor Mahia to do well in Caf competition, then they must make sure we keep the best players we currently have in the squad for continuity purposes,” Polack told Goal.

“We have to sit down with my management, look at the players whose contracts have run down, are they going to sign are they going to go? If they are not staying, then we must look out for players we have to bring into the club.

“Of course I have players I am interested in but I will always go for sticking with the same team, you have to keep stability and cannot keep changing a team every year, you cannot keep changing 10 to 15 players every year, for me that is wrong and is something I don’t want to see happen at Gor Mahia while I am in charge.

“You cannot have stability in a team when you keep changing players, we have to see the players we have and make sure we keep them, we must talk to those whose contracts are running out and then after that we can go for a few new faces to help complete the squad.”

Asked on whether keeping the squad intact and signing a few new faces will help Gor Mahia to do well in Caf competition, Polack responded: “Of course yes, that is the way to go, when you have your squad intact it becomes easy for the new signings to integrate well and it makes your work easier as a coach.

“But changing your team every year will affect your team because you were improving with the squad, and then you have to start afresh by helping the new signings to get to understand your philosophy and get used to the team, which might take time.”

Last season, Gor Mahia’s dreams of making it to the group stages of the competition were ended after they were knocked out of the first round following a 6-1 aggregate loss to Algeria’s USM Algers.

Kipkirui says he is loyal to Gor Mahia

Gor Mahia prolific talisman Nicholas Kipkirui has assured K’Ogalo fans that he is going nowhere as a mass exodus of players looms at the club.

Kipkirui, who revealed that he has got offers from a number of clubs, says that his allegiance is with the club and he plans to see out his contract which ends in June 2021.

The former Zoo Kericho attacker, who revealed that being broke has forced him to relocate from Nairobi to his home in Kericho County, says Gor was there for him during his long spell with injury and the best way of paying back is to stick with the Kenyan Premier League champions through happier and sad times.

“I’m not going anywhere soon. Yes, I know many will leave at the end of the season because of the tough financial conditions at the club, but I am determined to finish my contract and renegotiate with the club,” he said.

 

Since the exit of their shirt sponsor, Sportpesa in August year, K’Ogalo has found it hard to pay salaries and currently owes players pay for several months.

The 23-year-old, however said his main focus is regaining top form so that he can lead K’Ogalo to clinch both the domestic and continental titles next season.

“I just want to get back to top form and I believe I can achieve that since the injury I had at the start of this season was a great setback and affected my performance,” he added.

The versatile attacker who has been a regular starter at K’Ogalo revealed that he is now training with some of the local clubs in Kericho so as to keep fit.

“I have been following the training schedule given to us by our coach and also trains with local clubs here. There is a lot of talents in Kericho which needs to be tapped,” he said.

The highly rated striker joined Gor in November 2018 from Zoo Kericho, where he is remembered for scoring 14 league goals for the then newly promoted KPL side.

Despite inconsistent performances this season, Kipkurui has managed to be Polack’s first choice striker, relegating Ugandan import Juma Balinya to the bench.

Other strikers Gor boasts of in their squad are Boniface Omondi, Kennedy Agogo, former Kibera Black Stars striker, Nicholas Omondi and former Migori Youth forward, Clinton Okoth.

Kipkirui, the 2018 Sports Journalists Association of Kenya (SJAK) Young Player of the Year Award winner, has bagged four league goals this season.

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Polack: Players should still be training


Gor Mahia coach Steve Polack has said that due to the uncertainty surrounding the fate of the 2019-2020 Kenya Premier League, he has told his players to continue training on their own

Additional reporting from the Nation

Gor Mahia coach Steven Polack has said the club is not celebrating winning the Kenyan Premier League just yet, saying the war of words between Football Kenya Federation (FKF) and the Kenya Premier League Limited was not good for football.

On April 30, FKF President Nick Mwendwa announced that the Kenyan Premier League would come to a premature conclusion, prompting protests from the league body. The football administrator also declared reigning champions Gor Mahia winners of the current season.

Polack on Friday said the club was waiting final decision on the league from the league body which is legally mandated to run the 18-team competition.

KPL’s five-year tenure as the league running body ends on September 24 when FKF is expected to take over.

On Thursday, KPL also wrote to Confederation of African Football (Caf) regarding FKF’s decision to declare Gor champions, and the decision to terminate the season with 10 matches to go. The league games were postponed in early March due to coronavirus pandemic which has so far claimed 29 lives in the country.

Polack has said he would love to win his first KPL title with Gor since he joined in September last year on the pitch rather than through boardroom declarations.

KPL chairman Ambrose Rachier, who is also the club’s chairman, has refused to comment on the matter due to conflict of interest.

“I have instructed my players to continue with the individual training schedule I gave them because to me, the league is not yet over. Even though people are telling me to be happy for bagging my first league title, I can’t with all these controversies,” he said.

“I will be happy after KPL has decided the issue and after a communication from Caf. I believe in wining on the pitch and I can authoritatively say we are not champions just yet,” he added.

“I don’t want to be part of FKF and KPL politics but I read the letter and it was seeking an opinion and a roadmap on how the league will end amid coronavirus pandemic,” Polack said of KPL’s

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Polack concerned about the defense

Joash Onyango will be back this weekend

As this weekend’s mashemeji derby approaches, coach Steve Polack is expressing his concern about the rate at which Gor Mahia is conceding goals.

“I must admit I am very concerned with how we are conceding goals. I am all concerned about the goals we let in, we were 3-0 up against [Stima] and it is not a good show to allow them back into the game, very unfortunate that you can lead 3-0 and the end result is 3-2, it means there is something my players are not doing right.” Polack said to goal.com

Polack has identified the issues that need to be addressed.

“Against [Stima] we let in easy goals, the second goal should have not gone in and overall, we have been repeating the same mistakes which is not good at all especially when you are fighting to retain the league title.” Polack continued

Polack says he will spend this week working to rectify the errors that have resulted in the numerous conceded goals.

“We must work hard to keep the ball, and we will work on that this week and the players also need to know in football you must stay on your feet unless you can get the ball and don’t go down on your back unless you know you can get the ball and this are the basics we need to work on. We need to train on these basics and everything will be fine.” he concluded.

The attack will also need to be sharp against an AFC side that has not been conceding goals of late.

Former Gor Mahia attacker Francis Afiriyie believes Gor Mahia have the key to unlock the AFC defence.

“But playing Kipkirui and Balinya together will put the back four under pressure which might force them into making mistakes that Gor Mahia can capitalise on.” Afiriyie told goal.com

Afiryie also offered his tactical prescription

“Gor Mahia have to apply pressure on Leopards in the first 45 minutes; by doing this, they will limit their opponents from attacking freely. However, if K’Ogalo sit back, they will be in problems because of their defence. It is going to be tough, but I believe Gor have a better chance of winning the game.” Afriyie concluded.

 

 

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Polack: Only hard work will get us to the title

Gor Mahia coach Steve Polack is yet again urging his players to step up their game as the race for the 2019-2020 Kenya Premier league gets tougher.

“In life, there are no shortcuts, if you want something good you have to work hard for it. It is what I have told my players; they have to work harder if they want to win the league this season” Polack told goal.com

Tusker and Homeboyz are right behind Kogalo in the standings and coach Robert Matano appears determined to once again take the title as he did on the last day of the 2012 season.

“We have stiff competition from Tusker and Homeboyz and of course some other teams, but if we step up our game and get positive results consistently, we will outwit them and stay at the top.” continued Polack

The defence has been problematic for Kogalo in the past few games. The right full back position in particular has been exploited by opponents of late.

“We conceded very easy goals which we could have avoided, and it put us under a lot of pressure. In the second half, I was forced to make some changes that worked for us. The good thing is that we got what we had come for; three points was all we needed.” concluded Polack

 

 

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Polack: Strikers are currently our weak spot

Gor Mahia coach Steve Polack is dissapointed at the results of the last two matches whereby Kogalo have dropped 5 points thus putting them almost on par with Tusker in the chase for the 2019-2020 Kenya Premier League title. He says the lack of sharpness in attack is the root cause.

“I don’t put pressure or castigate my players, but it is true my strikers have not been clinical enough in front of goal. They have been wasting a lot of chances more so in the recent match against Naivas. “We have scored goals, but they have come by through teamwork and not individual effort,” said Polack to the Standard.

Polack, however, acknowledges that teamwork has ensured that goals also come from midfielders and wingers.

“I have to acknowledge that winning is due to teamwork and it is our joy if any players scores,” added Polack.

Despite the hard-earned victory, Gor assistant coach Patrick Odhiambo praised Naivas for giving his side a run for their money.

“It wasn’t an easy game. Despite fielding our regular players, we had to chase everything from the first minute to the end,” said Odhiambo.

“We were shocked by how things turned out especially in the first quarter. We are not used to such situations, but what helped us is experience, nothing else. We are fighting for everything this season; the Kenyan Premier League and the Cup.”

Gor Mahia will need to sharpen their attack when they take on Posta Rangers in the next round.

Polack : Philemon Otieno still a long way from playing

Commenting on Philemon Otieno, Polack indicated that the defender is still a long way off from gaining match fitness.

“One thing I like about him [Otieno] is that he is training hard every day and I am hoping he won’t be out for long,” Polack told Goal on Wednesday.

“I want him to regain his full fitness before we can see if he is able to start playing competitively but for now the Sunday game has come too soon for him.” said Polack to goal.com

Gor Mahia will also miss Wellington Ochieng and Joash Onyango for their next KPL match against Zoo Kericho

“[Wellington] Ochieng is also out injured and we don’t know how long he will be out and of course we have Joash [Onyango] who is serving a ban.”

Onyango was sent off during Gor Mahia’s league match against Western Stima which ended in a 1-1 draw and will miss the next two matches.

On playing against Zoo, Polack said: “As always we know every team playing against us will fight to give their best and we are prepared for that.

“I know [Zoo] have a good team but our main focus is to win the match and make sure we remain at the summit. The league is a marathon and we don’t want to lose focus now, we need all the players to focus and give us the result we need.”

 

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