2019-2020: The Year Gor Mahia overcame adversity

The 2019-2020 season will be remembered as one of the most tumultuous seasons not only in the history of Gor Mahia but also in the history of Kenya Football. The local football scene had to deal with the loss of its primary sponsor Sportpesa, which had been sponsoring both the local league and the two top clubs Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards. Then the league was interrupted by the Covid 19 pandemic that engulfed the entire globe. Through all this, coach Steve Polack had to keep the team motivated even as players went several months without salaries, key players quit the team for greener pastures while several players went on strike amid constant rumours of key players leaving.

End of 2019 season: Departure of key players and coach

2019 was a good season for Kogallo. Aside from winning the local league, the team reached new heights when they surpassed the group stage of the CAF Confederations cup, by reaching the quarter-finals. However things started to come off the rails from there. Key Gor Mahia players were busy looking for better deals. Jacque Tuyisenge who had been a reliable scorer for the team for several seasons and who in 2019 became the 5th highest scorer in the history of the team, departed for Angola. Playmaker Francis Kahata, who fell out with Chairman Rachier after the debacle where he was photographed sleeping in an airport, left for Simba Sports club. Harun Shakava who had also been rumoured to be leaving, finally left for Zambia.

Beginning of 2019-2020 season: Sponsor Departs

Chairman Rachier with Sportpesa CEO Ronald Karauri

Betting company Sportpesa had been sponsoring several sports teams and Federations all over the country. In April of 2019, the government instituted tough new regulations for the betting sector and Sportpesa was their primary target. As a result, Sportpesa threatened to withdraw all their sponsorships. They finally did in August of 2019. Gor Mahia were hard hit as they had been receiving money from Sportpesa both as title sponsor and as league sponsor.

Gor Mahia were now in dire financial straits with no sponsor, no money coming from a broadcast deal and no money from a league sponsor. To make matters worse, attendance at Gor Mahia matches had plummeted significantly due to the unavailability of City stadium which was closed for repairs in 2016 and Nyayo stadium which was also closed for upgrades. Attendance also fell because fans no longer trusted the stewards and officials whom they suspected of pocketing gate collections. Even with a sponsor, Gor Mahia often struggled to pay players and the technical bench in a timely manner. Without a sponsor, matters were bound to take  bad turn and they did.

Gor Mahia unveils new coach and new players

After the departure of Hassan Oktay, Gor Mahia unveiled a new coach with Finnish and English connections. In came Steven Polack who had previously coached Asante Kotoko of Ghana.

Gor Mahia also unveiled 17 new signings for the 2019-2020 season: Caleb Omondi, Alphonce Ombija, Lloyd Khavuchi, Godfrey Ombijo, Richdonald Bolo, Samuel Osok, (promoted from the club’s youth team), Abdalla Shira and Tobias Otieno (from Sony Sugar), Elvis Ronack (Nzoia Sugar), Maurice Ojwang (Western Stima), Robert Mapigano (Singida United, Tanzania), Dickson Ambundo (Alliance, Tanzania), Curtis Wekesa, Dennis Oalo (Nairobi Stima), Francis Afiriye (Ivory Coast), Gieslin Gikpe (Ghana)

New signings

Insufficient Number of Players

In the opening round of the CAF Champions League, Gor Mahia were pitted against  Aigle Noir  of Burundi. Gor Mahia’s problems started to mount when they were only able to travel with 15 players for the opening leg played in Bujumbura. Gor Mahia had earlier registered 25 players for their CAF assignments but later made several changes that led to late registrations. They thus had to make do without some players notably new signings Gislain Yikpe, Clifford Miheso and Francis Afryie.

Polack Starts with a bang

Polack’s first assignment came in the away match against AS Aigle. He had only put pen to paper a few days before taking charge for this game.

Despite playing under difficult circumstances, Gor Mahia were able to hold the Burundians scoreless in Bujumbura.

“I think it went well because we were never in danger of losing,” explained Polack in his post-match comments.

“We were short of bodies but we found a way to go around that. It’s just half-time in this tie and now that we have a feel of what the opposition is capable of, we will prepare for them at home.”

It was during the return leg at Kasarani that Polack started to show his true worth. Having studied the Burundians, Polack devised a game plan that sliced open the Burundian defence and Gor Mahia hammered the visitors 5-1. The goals came from Kenneth Muguna, Kipkirui(2), Ambundo and Boniface Omondi.

Shortly thereafter, Polack showed once again that he was a master tactician when he led Kogalo to a 5-2 victory over Tusker.  The goals cme from Nicholas Kipkirui in the first half, before Kenneth Muguna, Boniface Omondi, Charles Momanyi added four more in the second half.

Continental Debacle

Having defeated Aigle Noir, Gor Mahia were now pitted against USM Alger, a team that Kogalo had played only two seasons earlier and had recorded decent performances against. Gor Mahia’s travel plans were thrown into dissaray when the Ministry of Sport initially declined to fund Gor Mahia’s travel.

“The Ministry has no money and Gor Mahia management should have written to us through the federation to get money from the sports fund instead of the ministry itself. The ministry has no money and their request has fallen through as at now,” said Mr Kirimi Kaberia, the Permanent Secretary.

“We have tried looking for ways to help them but it has not been successful. We shall have a meeting on Tuesday to find a way out but as you know, the ministry does not budget for funds to cater for such travels,” added Mr Kaberia.

Unlike two years earlier, Gor Mahia were no match for the Algerians this time around. They lost the opening leg 4-1 before going down 2-0 at home.

It did not help that Gor Mahia were still playing without their new signings who had been registered late.

With Gor Mahia having been eliminated from the CAF Champions League, they were relegated to the CAF Confederations cup where they were pitted against Congolese side DC Motema Pembe.

Player Revolt

With Gor Mahia’s financial problems mounting, a player revolt started. First it was captain Kenneth Muguna and Vice captain Joash Onyango who stopped attending training. Coach Polack was incredulous.

“It’s not my job to know whereabouts of players but the team manager (Jolawi Abondo) has briefed me that Onyango and Muguna are no longer picking his calls and communicating with him. I don’t know if they have valid reasons for that but I take it as an act of indiscipline,” Gor coach Steven Polack told Nation Sport on Saturday.

Despite financial issues, Gor Mahia were recording good results in the local league thanks largely to coach Steve Polack’s ability to keep players motivated.

Gor Mahia vs DC Motema Pembe

Gor Mahia Now had the services of some new signings such as Ivorian Yikpe Ghislain.  Missing was Philemon Otieno who had picked up an injurry while playing for Harambee Stars. It was an injury that required surgery. Yet FKF refused to pay for Otieno’s surgery. Gor Mahia for their part could not finance the surgery, resulting in a tussle between Gor Mahia and FKF. In the end, Otieno got the surgery he needed thanskl to financial assistance from Harambee Stars team-mates like Johana Omollo, Victor Wanyama and Michael Olunga.

Shafiq Butambuze, the Ugandan left fullback suffered a similar fate. After getting an injury, he did not get the surgery he needed and had to seek assistance which he got 7 months later.

Gor Mahia put on a fight. Ghislain, who started on the bench, scored with his first touch when he came on as a substitute. But the lead was short lived as the Congolese side equalized minutes later following a defensive blunder. Late in the game, defender Charles Momanyi handled in the box and was shown red by match referee Lofti Bekoussa who also awarded a penalty. But then in a twist of events Mapigano made a heroic save to deny Vinny Bongonga from the spot.

Mapigano saves a penalty

The return leg was played at the Stade Tata Raphaël Stadium. Wellington Ochieng handed Gor Mahia the lead in the 10th minute before Vinny Bongonga drew the hosts level in stoppage time of first half. Junior Kone then scored the winner for Motema Pembe in the 64th minute.

Polack blamed the lack of top class players.

“I’m not castigating the current players but Gor Mahia needs to sign top class players who can do well in continental matches. I have only stayed here for a few months and can’t name the players the club is supposed to buy but in future I will know who to sign,” he added.

Return to the League

Gor Mahia returned to the local league. By this time (November 2019), Kogalo still held an unbeaten record in the local league. This was impressive considering that the players had not been paid salaries since August. But the financial issues finally took their toll as Gor Mahia lost their unbeaten run to Mathare United.

Polack blamed the fact that players had boycotted training due to non-payment of salaries.

“How can you have a last training session and players don’t show up? Yesterday [Tuesday] was very important for us to do the tactics ahead of the match but the players did not show up. I had at least six players who did not start from the last game and the reason we needed to train together for the match.

Mashemeji Derby

With Gor Mahia players completely unmotivated due to non-payment of salaries, arch rivals AFC Leopards saw an opportunity to beat Gor Mahia, something they had not done in over two years. The match between the two arch-rivals started on a slow note for Gor Mahia. The players looked unmotivated in the first half as AFC dominated proceedings. Apparently the players were staging a go slow to protest unpaid salaries.

At halftime coach Polack read the riot act to the players and lit a fire under their chairs. Gor Mahia came back a completely changed team in the second half and took control of proceedings.

Yikpe Ghislain celebrates after scoring

Towering Ivorian Yikpe Ghislain put Kogalo ahead at the 55th minute, towering above the Leopards defense to power in a header from a Kenneth Muguna corner.

The Ivory Coast striker was to score his and Gor Mahia’s second ten minutes later after a sumptuous move from the home side. Yikpe was to start a move that ended with Clifton Miheso with the winger beating off a series of players before cutting it back for the striker who tapped the effort past Benjamin Ochan.

. A quick counter saw Omondi spring the ball to Miheso with the former Leopards man sending a long ranger shot that beat keeper Ochan at the near post; the player refusing to celebrate his effort as a show of respect to his former employers.

Leopards were to pull a goal back seven minutes from time through Tresor Ndikumana Lawrence Juma scored a fourth following some good work from Boniface Omondi down the right.

Remaining League Campaign

Having started the league campaign on a high note, Gor Mahia was ending on a low note thanks in large part to financial issues. The next game after the Mashemeji derby was a scoreless draw with Ulinzi. Coach Polack stated that players lacked motivation due to non-payment of salaries.

“To win matches we have to sort all this issues so that players can concentrate. The league is very competitive and we have to get focused so as to win our matches,” Polack told Nation Sport

Polack himself contemplated quitting.

“Things are continuing to be tough not only to the players but also for me. I’m the sole breadwinner for my family back at home and I have to pay for their house and take care of them. I will have to make a decision in a few days on the way forward,” said Polack, who admitted he is very broke.

During the month of Decemeber, Gor Mahia went through a period of two weeks where players did not train. Again this was due to non-payment of salaries.

“We are not in a good position, we have not trained for two weeks, everybody knows we have not been training, we only trained two weeks ago,”

Soon thereafter, Ivorian Yikpe Ghislain, left the club to join Young Africans of Tanzania and Ghanaian Francis Afiriyie left to join Township Rollers of Botswana.

When the league resumed, the slump continued as Gor Mahia barely escaped defeat against Posta Rangers. A late goal from Muguna salvaged a 1-1 draw.

In January, Gor Mahia managed a 1-0 win over moneybags Wazito. Polack was happy that the team had won despite not training.

“In the half-time break, I had to give the players both good and bad words and I am happy they woke up in the second half. It has been a long week, to be honest, we trained just twice so I am happy with the way we played in the 90 plus minutes and won the game.” said Polack.

A week later however, Gor Mahia succumbed to a 2-1 defeat away to Kakamega Homeboyz who were now proving to be Gor Mahia’s most capable challengers.

K’Ogalo looked exhausted during the match having travelled to Kakamega the same day and Homeboyz outclassed them in the entire match.

Gor Mahia would recover in late January, beating Bandari 3-0 at Afraha. The match featured a rare goal by goalkeeper David Mapigano who caught his opposite number by surprise.

Gor Mahia continued to record good results in the remaining league matches. This was however interspersed by some surprise losses such as a 3-1 loss to Sofapaka.

A key win that put Gor Mahia in good position to retain the title was the 1-0 win over arch rivals AFC Leopards in the second leg of the mashemeji derby. Boniface Omondi scored the all important goal. Gor Mahia was recording wins despite players constantly going on strike to pay non-payment of salaries. By February, Gor Mahia players had now gone 6 months with no salary.

Gor Mahia went on strike in the second week of March right before they were to play Posta Rangers in the FKF cup.

A player who sought anonymity said they have had enough of empty promises from the management.

“Our houses have been locked and have find it rough to go for training with empty stomachs. We understand the club doesn’t have a sponsor but we also have families to feed. It is really tough,” said the player.

Government suspends sports activities.

The match against Posta Rangers was scheduled for March 14. A day earlier, the government of Kenya suspended all football activities due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Posta Rangers showed up at the venue but Gor Mahia were nowhere to be seen.

“It was all over in the media that the government had stopped all sports activities for a period of time and it is the reason we did not travel to Nakuru for our match against Rangers,” Gor Mahia CEO Omondi Aduda.

Financial Problems continued.

With football activities suspended, Gor Mahia’s financial problems were set to escalate since gate collections which is the club’s only source of revenue was now shut down.

During the month of March, the players were given only Ksh 3000 each.

“When my phone vibrated on Friday I checked and saw an Mpesa SMS only to be shocked that it was only Sh3,000. To make matters worse, I had a Fuliza loan and the whole amount was swallowed,” said a player.

“I don’t think the money was a salary as such, but was meant to help them buy vegetables and maize flour. There is no money, but we are trying our best to find something for their upkeep,” said club official Ronald Ngala.

Gor Mahia declared league champions

With the league suspended, KPL CEO Jack Oguda was adamant that the league would resume. However FKF Chairman Nick Mwendwa had other ideas. He declared Gor Mahia as league champions on April 30th, citing FIFA rules. Gor Mahia were leading the league by seven points by the time the league was terminated.

“Congratulations Gor Mahia! You are champions once again and you will represent Kenya on the champions league Next season. Lets do this !” Mwendwa tweeted.

Oguda protested and took the decision to the Sports Disputes Tribunal (SDT). It would take the SDT five months to make their decision. Finally in September of 2020, SDT declared Gor Mahia teh champion, siding with the FKF.

 

 

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1983: The last time Gor Mahia played a Burundian side

With the CAF Champions League match against Aigle Noire approaching, it is worth taking a trip down memory lane to recall the last time Kogalo played a Burundian side. But 1983 was such an eventful year that it is worth remembering the peaks and valleys that beset Gor Mahia in that epic year.

Background

New signings

Key signings: Far left David Ochieng and Abdallah Shebe (with ball) teamed up with Gideon Hamisi (centre)

1983 CECAFA Cup

A poor start to the 1983 season

The Vital O Fiasco

Investigation

Chairman Mbori was under pressure

The arrival of Len Julians

 

At Bata Stadium Limuru before beating Bata Bullets 4-0
Backrow: Shebe,Zangi, Makamu, Bassanga,Aziki, Charles Otieno,Vigo,Jogoo,Jerry Imbo
Front Row: Okello Kolobot, Enock, Solo, Janabi, Nick Okoth, Hezborn, Pierre, Kamoga
Enock Obwaka, Peter Ochieng Pierre and Gideon Hamisi

Mashemeji derby First leg

1983 KNFL Second Leg

Gor Mahia vs Norwich City

 

Zangi (left) seen here in later years, scored twice against Norwich City

Mashemeji derby second leg

Sammy Onyango scored in almost every mashemeji derby he played

End of the 1983 season.

Hezborn Omollo was the second leading scorer in the 1983 KNFL

 

Final Standings in 1983



1983 Post Season

Only Bob Ogolla and Bassanga were in the Stars starting line-up. Austin was left out altogether

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Gor Mahia’s long history of self destruction

Gor Mahia’s recent CAF Confederations cup quarter-final matchup against RS Berkane was nothing but an unmitigated disaster, perhaps one of the worst in the club’s illustrious history. But it was not the first time that the club’s players, officials or external forces had conspired . In fact former player Innocent Mutiso was on television recently recalling the travel woes that the team experienced when they went to Gabon to face off with US Bitam.

2019: Berkane Shame

After qualifying for the quarter-final to much fanfare, Gor Mahia players went on strike three days before the first leg against Berkane. According to Chairman Rachier, they had just been paid their March salaries a day earlier. One would think that the players would seek this opportunity to showcase their abilities for potential suitors including this very Moroccan side. By going on strike, they denied coach Hassan Oktay the opportunity to put his finishing touches on match preparations. Plus their state of mind was clearly not focused on the game. The predictable result was that they lost 2-0. North African teams are not to be trifled with and maximum preparation and focus is needed.

The second leg was a complete disaster. Gor Mahia was notified by CAF of the match schedule a good 24 days before the team was to travel to Berkane. That was ample time to plan the trip. But it appears that both Gor Mahia and the Ministry of sports left travel planning and ticket allocation to the very last moment. The net result was a shambolic traveling program. Players arrived mere hours before the match, some after having spent nights sleeping on airport floors.

Gor Mahia players sleeping at the airport enroute to Morocco

Gor Mahia lost the second leg 5-1 largely due to mental and physical fatigue. Again North African teams are very adept at changing their tactics to exploit weakness whether it is fatigue or lack of focus.

2018: So near yet so far

In 2018, Gor Mahia qualified for the CAF Confederations cup after unexpectedly eliminating much fancied Supersport of South Africa, a team whose budget is several times larger than Gor Mahia. Then in the group stage, Gor Mahia was placed with what seemed like an easy group with Young Africans of Tanzania, Rayon Sport of Rwanda and USM Alger of Algeria. It seemed like a glorious opportunity for Gor Mahia to advance past the group stage.

Indeed Gor Mahia started well, forcing an away draw to Rayon sports. In the second match, they completely outplayed USM Alger but settled for a scoreless draw. They then beating Yanga 4-0 and 3-2. It seemed like Kogalo were coasting to the next stage. Then things begun to come loose at the seams. The Kenya Premier League saw it fit to give Gor Mahia a heavy August schedule in which they played 10 matches in 29 days. Stalwart Meddie Kagere suddenly packed his bags and left for Simba of Dar es Salaam, while long serving defender Godfrey Walusimbi also dissappeared, only to surface at Kaizer Chiefs of South Africa.

Shock loss to Rayon Sports

Gor Mahia ended up in a shock home loss to Rayon Sport before losing to USM Alger thus ending their aspirations of going to the next stage.

Coach Dylan Kerr described difficult conditions that he had to put up with during the 2018 campaign that included constant player strikes due to non payment of dues, traveling to Machakos to play Esperance the day before the match and being stuck in traffic for 8 hours. The trip to USM Alger which took a colossal 38 hours including a 28 hour stint in a Moroccan airport in which the players once again slept on the airport floor. The coach pleaded with club officials to sort these issues out.

2016: CNAPs flap

In 2015, a very strong Gor Mahia squad won the league unbeaten and appeared poised for a glorious continental campaign. In the process they scored an incredible 60 goals and finished 20 points ahead of second placed Ulinzi Stars. Kogalo appeared poised for continental glory. But it was not to be. The attacking trio of Ali Abondo, Michael Olunga and Meddie Kagere who had scored 43 of Gor Mahia’s 60 goals in the league campaign all departed. Thus as Gor Mahia faced CNAPs whom they had beaten a year earlier, Gor Mahia coach Frank Nuttall had to deploy a makeshift line-up.

Nuttall with Enock Agwanda. One of the last matches Nuttall coached

What is worse, Nuttall was unhappy with Chairman Rachier who was demanding that Nuttall take a significant paycut. Nuttall was fired only a week before the match against CNAPs, only to be re-instated due to fan pressure a day before the match. But the lack of physical and psychological preparation was evident as Gor Mahia lost 1-2 at home to CNAPs before losing the second leg 0-1. Nuttall soon left in a huff only to surface on the bench of Zamalek as an assistant coach.

2015: Kogalo peppered by AC Leopards

In the 2015 Africa Champions League, Gor Mahia managed to eke out a narrow win over CNAPs of Madagascar in the preliminary round. Next they faced AC Leopards of Congo-Brazza.

Unfortunately for Kogalo, they had to make do without three key players: Meddie Kagere, Karim Nizigiyimana and Abouba Sibomana. This because the players were not registered with CAF. In fact Chairman Rachier admitted that only 19 players were eligible to play against AC Leopards. Gor Mahia put on a fight but without key players and with only 19 players to chose from, they lost both legs 1-0.

2012: Ferroviario woes

Gor Mahia qualified for the 2012 CAF Confederations cup by virtue of having won the domestic cup in 2011. The Camerounian Anaba Awono was appointed head coach after a stint as assistant coach. They then went on a signing spree to boost the club for continental action. In came Ali Bondo, George Midenyo ,David Owino, Ivo Mapunda, Rama Salim ,Baldin Ngwa, Wyclifee Kasaya, Tony Nyangor, Ibrahim Kitawi, Yusuf Juma, Hugo Nzangu,Peter Juma, Donald Musoti and Felix Nwosu.

Gor Mahia now had a massive squad of over 30 players, presenting coach Awono with a selection headache that was worsened by certain players. Equally bloated was the technical bench.

Gor Mahia played Ferroviario of Mozambique in the opening round. On paper it should not have been a difficult match. But the Mozambicans ran rings and concentric circles around Gor Mahia winning 3-0 in Maputo. Collins Okoth was red carded in the second half to add to Gor Mahia’s woes. It would have been worse had Jerim Onyango not saved a penalty.

Kogalo players in Maputo

Upon returning, reports emerged about infighting within the Kogalo bench. Coach Awono was not in control. There was constant bickering between him and team manager Jolawi Obondo. There was also cartel like behavior from EC members, some of whom demanded playing time for certain players. In the end, chairman Ambrose Rachier sent the entire technical bench packing including Awono, Jolawi, Zablon Otieno and Julius Owino. It was not enough however as Gor Mahia with club legend Bobby Ogolla now in charge, lost the return leg 1-0 .

2009: APR hammering

In 2008, an unfancied Gor Mahia side full of unknown players ended up winning the KFF cup, beating Posta Rangers in the final. It was an unexpected win as Gor Mahia had finished 9th in the league standings and were unimpressive. The win earned them the right to play in the CAF confederations cup. James Sianga was in rebuilding mode and stacked his team with youthful players.

Experts commented that the team was too young and inexperienced and would be unable to withstand the rigours of continental football. They were right. Gor Mahia lost the opening leg 5-0 to a highly experienced APR side that had players from Congo, Tanzania and even Kenya (Moses Odhiambo). The youthful Kogalo side suffered stage fright. The only experienced Gor mahia players were Zablon Otieno and Julius Owino

The trouble with building a completely youthful side is that young players tend to be inconsistent, error prone and crumble under pressure. However Sianga said that he had no choice because the club did not have the financial wherewithal to

Gor Mahia Line-up: Jerry Onyango, Julius Awilo, Stephen Otieno, Isaac Omollo, Francis Akango, Tony Onyango, Habil Otieno, Elisha Ochieno, Christopher Wekesa, George Odhiambo, Zablon Otieno.

1983: Vital O Fiasco

By the beginning of 1983, Gor Mahia was still in turmoil after a disastrous 1982 season that saw numerous players suspended from the club. Gor Mahia were in rebuilding mode with several youthful players. They had qualified for the 1983 Cup winners cup by virtue of finishing second in the 1982 league campaign.

They started their continental campaign in excellent fashion, beating Vital O of Burundi 2-1 away in Bujumbura. The scorers were Bobby Ogolla who scored from a direct free-kick and Abdalla Shebe. But thats when disaster struck. The players who had been suspended in the previous season and were still under suspension, infiltrated the Gor Mahia camp and convinced other Gor Mahia players to revolt supposedly because they were being mistreated by the club brass.

Gor Mahia ended up losing the second leg 3-0 at City stadium, putting on one of the poorest performances ever seen by the club. In the aftermath, Andrew Obunga, Mike Ogolla “Machine”, Charles Ondiek and George Ayuka were expelled from the club by Chairman Zack Mbori.

1982: Dynamo de Fima Disaster

In 1982 what looed like a strong and experienced Kogalo side was pitted against Dynamo de Fima of Madagascar. But yet again a player revolt ended Gor Mahia’s continental campaign. The players had been promised that they would camp at Grosvenor Hotel. But upon arriving from a build up tour of Ethiopia, the bus took them to Lenana high school. The players revolted at what they considered substandard accommodation. They refused to train and refused to travel to Madagascar for the return leg. In the end Gor Mahia was disqualified and fined heavily for not honoring the return fixture.

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The greatest goalkeepers ever to play for Gor Mahia

With skipper  Jerim Onyango having finally decided to hung his gloves and his boots, its time to take a trip down memory lane to remember the best players ever to man the posts for Gor Mahia Kogalo.

James Sianga Abawa

Sianga pictured here while playing for Kenya Polytechnic

Mid 1970s to early 1980s: Dan Odhiambo, George Ayuka, Charles Ondiek

Dan Odhiambo and Mahmoud Abbas both pictured here, were rivals for the national team starting position

David Ochieng “Kamoga”

David Ochieng Kamoga at the 1987 All Africa games

Tairus Omondi “Tairero”

Tirus Omondi at CECAFA club cup 1991 with Fred Awich and Tom Odhiambo

Charles Omondi “Korea”

Omondi Korea during his recent days as a coach

Joseph Asembo

Joseph Asembo and Michael Kisaghi were the Gor Mahia goakleeping duo in 1995 and 1996

Mathew Ottamax and Victor Onyango

Ottamax and Tom Odhiambo in 1996 in London

Ivo Mapunda, Jerim Onyango, Boniface Oluoch

Mapunda and the terrible towel

 

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Kogalo must always march forward as we did in 1973

Story by Muroro Pacho
Milimani 89 -Strathmore 93

The year 2014 will be remembered in the annals of the club history for the mass exodus of top players that the club experienced. Key players left in droves at mid season including Shaban Kenga, Anthony Akumu, Timonah Wanyonyi, Kevin Omondi, Rama Salim and now possibly Dan Sserunkuma. All key players who were playing significant roles at the club.  However it must be remembered that Gor Mahia as a club has experienced a worse player exodus but still confounded pundits by rising like a Phoenix to overcome the odds and succeed.  Let us take a trip back to the early 1970s and one of the worst quagmires any club in Kenya has ever found itself in.

Contentious Club elections in 1973

During the elections held on June 17 1973, Peter Anyumba was elected Chairman, beating Dan Owino who had previously held the position of patron. Zack Mbori was elected Vice Chairman with former player Mahallon Danga securing the Secretary General position.  Prior to the elections, there was a player revolt with players demanding that certain officials be elected or else they would quit.  Upon losing, Dan Owino became disgruntled. He now said he approached by senior players of the club and asked to assume the position of Chairman. He therefore asked club members to declare him interim Chairman. But members would have none of it.  It was not the first time Owino had attempted a hostile take-over. Back in 1971, Owino and a group of officials had attempted to take over the club, only to be rebuffed.  This time he was able to get almost all the Gor Mahia players to walk out. Club secretary general Mahallon Danga gave the rebelling players a deadline in which to return to the club or face expulsion. Most of them never returned. A few did.

The Creation of Gor Mahia United FC

Dan Owino's clamour for the top position was rejected by members of the executive committee who opted to expel him. Owino thus created a splinter group called Gor Mahia United FC.  Owino then proceeded to write to the Kenya Football Association (KFA) Chairman Williams Ngaah seeking entry into the league. KFA sided with the Owino group.  Gor Mahia Secretary general Mahallon Danga wrote a letter of protest to the KFA Copied to the minister in charge of sports, Masinde Muliro.  Matters became farcical during one match against Kenya Breweries when both Gor Mahia and Gor Mahia United showed up, with United having the blessing of the KFA. In essence the KFA was conspiring with the Dan Owino group to kill Gor Mahia.  But Gor Mahia fans would have none of it.  Fracas ensued at the stadium with fans raining stones and abuse at the rebel group. Police eventually forced them out of the field. The real Gor Mahia took the field and beat Kenya Breweries 3-2.

The largest mass exodus at the club.

In the end, Dan Owino was right about one thing. He had the backing of most of the senior players. Gor Mahia was hit with an exodus that would have crippled most clubs. James Sianga, William Ouma Chege, Fred Siranga, Stephen Yongo, Albert Oketch, Sospeter Otin, John Otieno

Losing Ouma “Chege” especially hit the fans hard. He had been the best striker in the country for a decade and scored with amazing consistency. Sianga had been the national team goalkeeper for an incredible 8 years. Siranga, Hatari and Yongo were all excellent players with the latter at one point becoming player-coach of Harambee stars.

Merger

This is one of the various incarnations of the team formed after the breakway. Image comes courtesy of Ben Omaya via Osieyo Steve

Gor Mahia United was short lived as it soon merged with a new team Luo FC to form the reincarnation of Luo Union FC. Officials of the team included Chairman Haggai Koyier and Patron Dan Owino. Other officials included Solomon Oiro, Obare Asiko , and Paul Odhiambo as coach.  Luo Union would become one of the strongest teams not just in Kenya but in East and Central Africa. They won the CECAFA club cup in 1976 and 1977 with Agonda Lukio being the top scorer on both occasions. They also had other stars like Charles Ochieng, the best heading specialist Kenya had seen before Peter Dawo. Internal wrangles split Luo Union into Luo Stars and Luo United briefly before disbanding and re-emerging and changing their name Re-Union under the chairmanship of Omolo Rading. The name Reunion signified the fact that the players were re-uniting after having disbanded. It was also was due to the president Moi directive in 1980 banning tribal associations. That directive also ended GEMA FC which folded and was taken over by Benham FC owned by Clement Gachanja. Maragoli FC became Imara United and Abaluhya became All Footballers Cooperative Leopards aka AFC Leopards. Gor Mahia decided to change their name to Gulf Olympic Rangers (GOR) but later managed to convince the powers that be that Gor Mahia was not a tribal name

Resurgent Gor Mahia

Back to the dark period of Gor Mahia now. Those who thought the mass exodus would weaken or kill the club were sorely mistaken. After the players left, there were rebel officials quoted in the daily papers to the effect that Gor Mahia was a team with uniforms but no players.  But what Gor Mahia had at the time was unwavering support from the fan base and a strong group of officials most notably Mahallon Danga at secretary general and Peter Anyumba as Chairman. It was Anyumba who made the famous statement to the effect that

Gor Mahia won the league in 1974 much to the dismay of its detractors. In 1975 Gor Mahia started the league with a bang beating Abaluhya Football club 5-1 in the opening match. On the last day, Gor Mahia and Luo Union were tied on 41 points. Gor Mahia had a better goal difference and should have won the league but they faltered on the last day by drawing with Western Stars. Luo Union were programmed to play Abaluhya next. Luo Union won the match. There were rumours that Abaluhya colluded with Luo Union to let them win to deny Gor Mahia the league.  In 1976, Gor Mahia took no chances. They secured the services of dangerous striker Maurice Ochieng

This was an encounter between Gor Mahia and Luo Union circa 1979 Holding the ball is Oduwo “Cobra” behind him are Lule and Obunga The Luo Union players: Eric Omonge one of the most skilled players and Edward Kiiza

 

These lessons apply today

What carried Gor Mahia from threat of death in 1973 was the unwavering support they received from fans as well as strong active leadership in particular from Peter Anyumba and Mahallon Danga. The late Danga who hailed from Seme in Kisumu county had been a former player for the original Luo Union and was a founder member of Gor Mahia in 1968 as was Peter Anyumba who at the time was director of Kenya survey and later became a member of parliament.

Two determined leaders: Anyumba and Danga

Today the club is dealing with a starting over from a massive player exodus and significant cash-flow problems occasioned by harsh treatment the Kenya Revenue Authority and being abandoned by sponsors. The action by KRA in April appeared to malicious by someone trying to send the club into dissarray.  There are lessons here for the current leaders of the club as well as the fan base. The current officials have an opportunity to pull the club out of this quagmire. Start by resolving the standoff with KRA. Since the issue arose in April fans are still in the dark as to what is going on. Officials can also stabilize the club's finances by expanding transparency. Fans must play their part by supporting the club morally as the 1973 generation did and financially via 350100. There is already evidence that complacency is kicking in from both the fan base and the officials. No one should wait until players revolt due to non-payment of salaries before reacting.  The other moral of the story is that Gor Mahia as a club has survived stronger earthquakes with enemies both internal and external. The club has always survived with the vehement support of its fan base and by strong leadership. No matter how many players come and go, the club will remain strong if the fans and Kenyans of goodwill stand by it. Remember, thus club offers positives for the entire country.

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The legend that is Peter Dawo

Story by Muroro Pacho
Milimani 89 Strathmore 93

Dawo at the 1986 KECOSO Games

Opening round of the 1987 Africa cup

2nd round and quarter final rounds of the 1987 Africa cup

Gor Mahia vs El Merreikh

Semi Final at the 1987 Africa cup

Gor Mahia before the semi against Dragons: From right: Bassanga, Breakdance, Hezborn Omollo, Pierre, Magongo, Fundi, Sollo, Dawo, Mwidau, Nyangi, Jua Kali, Maira, Janabi, Ndolo, Kamoga

Gor Mahia vs Dragons L'Oueme

Final at the 1987 Africa cup

A day before the final match, President Moi admonishes Dawo : “Gichana wewe lazima ufunge ghesho”. As Dawo shakes in his boots. Also in this pic are cabinet ministers Zachary Onyonka, Henry Kosgey, Robert Ouko, Jonathan Ngeno, Joseph Leting and Okiki Amayo

Gor Mahia vs Esperance 1987

Peter Dawo in the Kenya National Football League

Peter Dawo in the Kenya league

This was the game where Dawo scored a late equalizer against AFC

Peter Dawo in 1988

Other continental campaigns

Dawo in Africa cup

Dawo in Harambee stars

Peter Dawo in Harambee stars

 

Peter Dawo leaves for Egypt.

Peter Dawo in Egypt

Dawo at Arab Contractors in Egypt

Dawo returns to Kenya and retirement

Peter Dawo Gor Mahia vs Hellenic

 

What made Dawo great ?

Young Chiemodzie on Peter Dawo

Seen here in a friendly, Dawo was a nightmare for defenders

Peter Dawo Omuga

Peter Dawo Trivia

Peter Dawo is the uncle of current Gor Mahia striker Patrick Oboya.

Dawo was recently honored by the club

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