Yes, only a handful of spectators turned up to witness Gor Mahia’s coronation ceremony that was preceded by a 1-1 draw with Posta Rangers at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on Saturday.
Perhaps it was the 60 kilometres separating Machakos from K’Ogalo’s Nairobi base that deterred the outspoken and raucous Green Army from showing up for their big day.
Or it was the rains pounding parts of the Kenyan capital that dampened their spirits. Or perhaps it is that the numerous club supporters have witnessed such an event one time too many, and saw little reason to make the journey to Machakos.
Whatever the reason, many a Gor fan stayed away from the coronation ceremony, leaving the energy consuming work of supporting the team to a few diehard spectators who belted tune after tune to support the boys who have toiled in poor, substandard pitches and under extenuating difficult financial times and with a ramped up schedule to get to this unprecedented 18th league title.
At the end of the day, the green and white shirts walked away with one point, which was inconsequential in the grand scheme of things because the league title had already been put to bed.
And so it was that captain Harun Shakava lifted the 12-kilogram trophy, a handmade brass trophy that is now Gor’s to keep for winning it three times in a row, aloft to the tune of popular Bongo flavour songs coming booming from a loud speaker brought just for that specific reason.
Bernard Ondiek scored the opening goal on 41 minutes, a header from just outside the goalpost which was met by mad cheers of victory from the few supporters.
Three minutes later, Peter Ng’ang’a thought he had levelled matters for the home side, but ended up holding his head in regret as his shot hit the side netting.
That turned out to be a precursor to good things to come, as Dan Guya found the back of the net five minutes later with a ferocious right foot shot to ensure the two teams went into the breather tied 1-1.
Immediately after the second half started, coach Hassan Oktay introduced Rwandan striker Jacques Tuyisenge for the injured Francis Mustafa and then much later, George “BlackBerry” Odhiambo for Nicholas Kipkirui indicating his desire for goals.
However, nothing was forthcoming, and the second half turned out to be a see-saw battle between the two teams, with Posta Rangers matching the champions’ attacking moves.
The coronation ceremony itself was brief but breathtaking, with pride and satisfaction clearly etched on the faces of the Gor fans and players.
An ecstatic coach Oktay, whose clothes were drenched in water, said: “I’m happy to have won the league title with Gor Mahia on my first season at the club. After Asia, this is the second time I’m winning a title. Of course, it’s fantastic and I’m surely enjoying it. But I’m partially disappointed because I wanted to win it with a 15-20 point gap.”
“Those were my expectations with this is an amazing team that has been working hard both on and off the pitch.”