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Gor’s squad rotation pays off

Tuesday March 13 2018

By CELLESTINE OLILO
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Coach Dylan Kerr’s squad rotation at Gor Mahia seems to be paying huge dividends.

Kerr helped Gor reclaim the Kenyan Premier League title last season, and the team is enjoying a six-match unbeaten run in the league so far. Gor is also firmly in contention to reach the group stage of the 2018 Caf Champions League.

With such a record, it’s easy to get sucked in the comfort that comes with routine wins. But Kerr seems to have opened a new frontier in squad rotation.

The Englishman has deployed four different squads in six league matches, sometimes making surprise inclusions and combinations, yet he has avoided defeat each time.

The squad that started against Nzoia Sugar on Sunday was completely different from the one Kerr summoned against Tunisia’s Esperance in Caf Champions League on Wednesday in Machakos.

All the regular players were rested against Nzoia Sugar, including captain Harun Shakava, goalkeeper Boniface Oluoch and striker Meddie Kagere. Against Nzoia, only Boniface Omondi and Shabaan Odhoji were part of the 2017 title-wining squad. 

It was the fourth time in six matches that Kerr fielded a totally fresh squad, and the situation has created a winning spirit in the team as all players know they have equal chance of getting the nod.

In a league where coaches often play safe by sticking to their best guns week in week out, Kerr has succeeded in utilizing each of his 29 players, save only for four.

The four are reserve goalkeeper Fredrick Onyango, fullback Raphael Asudi and midfielder Stephen Okiro who was on the bench at the weekend.

Teenage sensation Alpha Onyango, who was roped in at the beginning of the season from Kakamega High School, has also been missing in action due to his educational commitments.

With Humphrey Mieno, Ernest, Samuel Onyango, Philemon Otieno, Francis Kahata and Lawrence Juma all being summoned with random frequencies to man the Gor midfield, the team has become unpredictable. And Gor’s 16 goals so far this year have come from 10 different players.

“I have good players in every department. I have three goalkeepers who are all so good I can use one in place of the other and not be worried at all. The case is the same upfront and in midfield and selecting a squad on match day is not easy,” he said.