Sunday, April 12, 2009

Gor coach Siang’a a man under siege

Gor Mahia head coach James Siang'a. Photo/DENNIS OKEYO

Gor Mahia head coach James Siang'a. Photo/DENNIS OKEYO 

By SAMMY KITULA

One charge that cannot honestly be laid against Gor Mahia coach James Siang’a, is that he lacks ideas. The embattled coach has had some success in club football, especially with Tanzanian powerhouse Simba.

The statistics speak for themselves: After joining Simba in 2001, Siang’a won Tusker Challenge Cup three times and Mainland and Union League titles. He also won the Kagame Cup with the team in 2002 and 2003. Siang’a also guided Simba to the quarter-finals of the Caf Champions League.

It’s under Siang’a’s guidance that Simba pulled off a massive upset when they eliminated Egypt’s and Africa’s powerhouse Zamalek from the Caf Champions League. At the time, Zamalek were the defending champions, but the Tanzanians had little respect for the five-times winners, kicking them out in the second round.

It’s after this success that the Gor Mahia management drafted in the veteran coach to steady the team when they qualified for their first continental campaign in over a decade, the Confederations Cup, after winning the KFF Cup last season. But Siang’a has definitely found the Kenyan club scene a different ball game altogether to the Tanzanian league. He has failed to transfer the same magic he had with Simba to Gor.

And now, it’s just a matter of time or luck, or both that stand between James Siang’a and his current job as Gor head coach. Another clueless performance by Gor this past weekend has everybody calling for the head of Siang’a.

Demanded resignation

Impatient supporters of the 1987 Mandela Cup winners are calling on the club bosses to replace Siang’a, who had to be escorted from Coca-Cola National Stadium by police following their 2-1 Kenyan Premier League defeat to Nairobi City Stars on Friday.

The former Harambee Stars’ goalkeeper was forced to leave the stadium under heavy police escort after the former football greats were condemned to their fifth loss in eight outings by the Kawangware-based team. Fans, who were demanding that he resign, came close to roughing him up but police acted swiftly and whisked him away to safety.

“We are wasting a lot of money coming to stadium and are now tired of this. He is the one who is putting players in wrong positions,” said one irate fan, who was among the group of supporters that tried to storm the dressing room.

A toothless Gor was bereft of invention and skill and couldn’t break down a City Stars team that was content to defend and do little else. Gor Mahia fans were, sadly again, left grieving despite the very good effort and colourful football by their young talented players who clearly are gaining experience by the day.

It’s been two months since Gor won a Premier League game (3-2) against basement club AFC Leopards-and Siang’a’s eighth-game this season has yielded just two wins. Since then, they have struggled, losing thrice and drawing once.

The team’s 3-0 win over Mathare United in this year’s Super Cup had many talking of a formidable side but their stake at the league title is in serious jeopardy going by their recent results.

Gor are now tied for second last in the 16-team league, three points ahead of AFC Leopards, who are yet to record a win thus far. Surprisingly, the team has a lot of good players, but the young talent aren’t given the push and rise they need, and the fans have every right to feel impatient.

But their choice of expressing their frustration wasn’t the best. “Roughing up the coach wasn’t the best idea, if you ask me. We played well, but we have been unlucky,” said a Gor’s player who sought anonymity so as to protect his place in the team.

Relinquished leadership

“You can read desperation in the fans, which is understandable, but we also want them to rally behind us in this quest. A league contains a series of matches and not just one. I know our time (to start winning) is coming.”

In another interesting result, newcomers Sofapaka relinquished league leadership after one week when they went down 1-0 to Bandari in Mombasa. Western Stima beat Red Berets 1-0 on Saturday at Kakamega’s Bukhungu Stadium to assume leadership of the Kenyan Premier League.

Leopards wasted a penalty but were lucky to salvage a point after drawing 1-1 against Kenya Commercial Bank. Michael Njihia took a rather weak shot that posed little danger for KCB’s goalkeeper Daniel Oliech who parried the shot away.

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