Dominant Gor Mahia reveal gulf of class locally

Thursday May 23 2019

Gor Mahia defender Charles Momanyi wheels away in celebration after scoring the opening goal during their SportPesa Premier League match against Vihiga United at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on May 22, 2019. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT |

Gor Mahia defender Charles Momanyi wheels away in celebration after scoring the opening goal during their SportPesa Premier League match against Vihiga United at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on May 22, 2019. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

DAVID KWALIMWA
By DAVID KWALIMWA
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Without a doubt, Gor Mahia were barely tested by either of the seventeen competing sides en-route to bagging an unprecedented eighteenth league title this season.
Led by captain Harun ‘Shakes’ Shakava and Rwandan danger man Jacques Tuyisenge, K’Ogalo players on Wednesday danced, hugged each other and celebrated with club officials and supporters at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos, moments after winning a third SportPesa Premier League title on the bounce.

“I consider myself lucky to manage this exciting breed of talented youngsters and they have proven that by navigating through some of the challenging decisions with ease. This group can achieve anything including winning the continental cup and so our focus is to keep going,” explained a visibly excited coach Hassan Oktay.
This followed a one-all draw versus visiting Vihiga United during which defender Charles Momanyi scored the crucial goal.

Gor’s quest for yet another league title was even made lighter on the day after second-placed Bandari could only manage a barren draw against Mathare United at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, in a match of interest.

That result means the dockers cannot bridge the eight-point deficit against the table-toppers cum champions with only two matches remaining this season, even if Bernard Mwalala’s charges triumphed in each of remaining fixtures by 10-0 scorelines.

In any case, Mwalala admitted to giving up on the title chase 12-days ago after watching his side settle for another barren draw with Posta Rangers.

“I am being realistic,” he pointed out at the time.

“There is no way we are going to win the league this term We have a few matches left and when you look at the gap between us and Gor Mahia, it will take a miracle for us to catch up with them.”

GULF IN CLASS

Gor have now accumulated 70 points from 32 matches. Bandari are further behind on 63.

“We have mastered the art of winning this thing but I am not about to share secrets of our success because we intend to keep winning,” bragged Gor Mahia chairman Ambrose Rachier.

“I also have to mention that this has been our toughest campaign yet. We had to compete in very many games and at some point we were stretched financially because we also had continental matches to honour. I wish to thank our sponsors, fans and all stakeholders for their support.”

Not even the abrupt departure of English coach Dylan Kerr to South Africa’s Black Leopards two weeks to the start of the current season could destabilise the Green Army.

Instead, it proved a blessing in disguise as Rachier managed to bring in Oktay who has infused a fresh breath of air into the team, resulting in a ruthless conversion streak as the team won 22 of the 32 league matches under his watch.

Only four of the remaining contests ended in stalemates.

The champions also scored a handsome 51 goals - more than any other team in the competition - and conceded 21, a haul which ranks as the least number of goals soaked in by either of the 18 teams.

Gor Mahia have also been aided by a slump in performance by nearest rivals, and especially AFC Leopards, Tusker and Ulinzi Stars, who are placed tenth, seventh and ninth on the standings respectively.

“Leopards have to perform better, they have the best budget in the league alongside Gor and there is no reason the team is not at the very least challenging for the title,” argued football commentator Michael Were.

An elaborately successful scouting network has also aided Gor Mahia’s success with the likes of youngster Nicholas Kipkurui - hero after scoring twice and setting up a third during the 3-1 victory over Leopards during Sunday's Mashemeji derby - Momanyi, Kenneth Muguna, and Ugandan left back Shafique Batambuze among the signings that have impressed this term.

Besides Oktay, Gor Mahia has gathered invaluable international experience over the past three seasons which seems to come in handy on the local front.

The team has faced the likes of SuperSport United (South Africa), Esperance (Tunisia), NA Hussein Dey (Algeria), Lobi Stars (Nigeria), Zamalek (Egypt), Petro Atletico (Angola) and even English Premier League side Everton during that spell and from all aspects look confident when confronting any side on the local front.

In fact, losses to the likes of Nzoia Sugar as happened last week in Bungoma are largely considered a surprise.

The champions will be decorated and handed the league trophy - for keeps - at an elaborate ceremony within the next week.

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