By: ISAAC SWILA
Kenyan representatives to the 46th edition of the Cecafa Club Championships, Gor Mahia, will Sunday afternoon attempt to add to its decorated trophy cabinet a fourth Cecafa Club title and it’s first in 30 years when they tackle Tanzanian moneybags Azam at the National Stadium in Dar es Saalam.
The last time Gor won the regional club championship, a preserve for league champions of regional member countries, was way back in 1985. Back then, the current club deputy coach, the silver-haired John ‘Bobby’ Ogolla, was still am important pillar in the playing unit.
He was the rock in the defence of the famous 1985 squad that brought honour and glory to the team. And this afternoon, Ogolla who is revered in club circles owing to his distinguished service to the team, will be aiming at making history as the first coach to have helped K’Ogalo claim the gong both as a player and now as a member of the backroom staff.
Gor’s performance in the championship has compounded critics and die-hard supporters alike. It should not be forgotten that the Kenyan glamour club has faced tough financial times in the last two years and their participation in the tournament alone had been in jeopardy.
Compared to their well-funded opponents, Azam, Gor are brand just by name, but when it comes to club structures, K’Ogalo do not come anywhere close to Azam.
That notwithstanding, Gor has done well becoming the talking point not just in Dar but also here in Nairobi. It is also not been lost to observers that last year, in the same competition, held in Kigali, Rwanda, Gor were tossed out at the group stage without winning a single match. They lost 2-1 to Uganda’s KCCA, 1-0 to Atletico Olympic of Djibouti before drawing 2-2 with host club APR and registering a similar result against Telecom of Djibouti.
Fast forward, Gor has not just charmed their way to the hearts of many a football fan in Dar, but the local press there too, which been falling over themselves; dedicating acres of space each day for the team.
Gor’s impeccable run is attributed to many factors, chief among them, head coach, Scot Frank Nuttall, who has been very motivational to his boys. His tactics and fielding have worked for the team. Barely four months into the job, Nuttall made wholesome changes in the squad converting the exciting Godfrey Walusimbi from left back to a lethal left winger, Musa Mohamed from right back to centre half– a position that has brought the best out of him. In fact Musa has been the unsung hero in the Gor’s fine run that has stretched to 25 games unbeaten.
The central midfield partnership of Collins ‘Gattuso’ Okoth and Khalid Aucho has been outstanding. Full backs Karim Nizigiyimana and Abouba Sibomana have also impressed, while upfront, the widely-travelled Meddie Kagere and Michael Olunga have performed well.