By James Waindi
Maurice 'Sonyi' Ochieng' is a living legend in Gor Mahia’s history, having steered the 12 times Kenyan Premier League winners to the title in 1976 with an unbeaten record courtesy of his record 26 goals.
Sonyi has also steered K’Ogalo to the Cecafa title and the Mandela Cup while on the team’s technical bench and admits that the club has a special place in his heart.
He is, however, worried that his own blood could put the team he loves to the sword when AFC Leopards and Gor renew their rivalry on Sunday in a league derby at the Nyayo National Stadium.
His son Victor Ochieng’ in January opted to join Leopards instead of his father’s preferred choice Gor, who had been chasing his signature even while he was still with the national team in Tanzania for the regional tournament.
The striker has rediscovered his goal scoring touch that saw him net 11 goals in 15 matches for Chemelil Sugar in the second leg of the season last year.
He single handedly broke Muhoroni Youth’s resistance last Sunday after coming off the bench to set up Allan Wanga for the equalising goal before scoring the winner to give Ingwe a laboured win over the league debutants.
"Victor is a very good striker and I am worried he could be the one punishing Gor on Sunday. His decision to join AFC Leopards is still okay with me.
"When he told me he had made up his mind on joining Leopards I told him I would support him fully and I believe he has a bright future," said Sonyi.
He added: "My record of 26 goals in a season still lives on 36 years later, but I believe my son can break it. He can still follow my footsteps even at AFC Leopards, he doesn’t have to necessarily be at Gor Mahia, but he has to ensure he is in the starting line-up because strikers can’t score goals from the bench."
Sonyi said anything was possible at Sunday’s derby, but noted that AFC Leopards were the favourites, given their quality recruitment and good coach.
The two sides meet at a time when Gor is experiencing a downward spiral, winning a single match in six attempts, while Leopards have won four out of five and are yet to lose any match.
Gor also expelled the entire technical bench last week.
However, as history tells, the weaker side between the rivals always rise to the occasion when they clash and it will be interesting to see if Gor can achieve that on Sunday.
"In 1985 the club suspended head coach Len Julians with six regular players after a spate of poor results and when I took the depleted team to the Cecafa competition in Khartoum we managed to reach the final where we beat Leopards 2-0 to clinch the title, courtesy of William Obwaka’s brace," said Sonyi.