Poor planning, congested fixture list and unsettled playing unit put paid to K’Ogalo’s continental campaign

By Gilbert Wandera: Friday, August 31st 2018 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Football
Gor Mahia duo of Meddie Kagere (left) and Jaques Tuyisenge celebrate their victory against SuperSports United of South Africa during CAF knockout matches at Kenyatta Stadioum in Machakos County on On Sunday, April 8, 2018. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

That Gor Mahia failed in their bid to make it to the quarter-finals of Caf Confederations Cup is hardly surprising.

Poor planning, lack of money, a congested fixture and departure of key players are some of the reasons that knocked out the team from what would have been a first for a Kenyan club as they sought to progress further in the tournament.

Gor Mahia always looked unprepared from the time they were grouped to play against Tunisian giants Esperance in the first round of the Caf Champions League.

On the eve of their first leg match at Machakos Stadium, the players almost spent the night on Mombasa heading to Machakos. Reason? They had been waiting for their salaries and allowances.

In the end, though the players put up a brave fight, they could not score against Esperance and were knocked out in the return match in Tunis two weeks later.

Having been edged out from the Champions League, the team still had an opportunity to play continental football as they were relegated to the Confederations Cup.

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The Kenyan champions beat SuperSport United of South Africa 1-0 in the first leg, but almost failed to travel for the return match until Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko intervened and donated tickets and allowances.

Luckily, Gor Mahia made it to the group stages of the competition and with it became eligible to receive Sh27million from continental body Confederation of African Football (Caf) and everyone thought the club’s money problems were over.

Having made it to the group stages of the Confederation’s Cup, one would have thought that the Kenyan champions would fully focus on doing well in this tournament what with prize money of more than Sh100million at stake for the winner.

But the club’s decision to take part in the regional club tournament meant that they had a lot of outstanding fixtures locally. The tension in the playing unit was already palpable by the time they travelled to Tanzania for the regional club competition where they were eliminated in the semi-finals amid complaints from players of non-payment of allowances.

The departure of Meddie Kagere, a key cog in the team’s continental campaign, made an already bad situation worse.  Coming back home, Gor Mahia was faced with  a congested fixture, which took a toll on the players and it was no surprise that they lost to Rayon Sports 2-1 making it difficult make it to the quarter-finals.

Playing their last match against USM Algier without key defender Godfrey Walusimbi, who left for greener pastures in South Africa and the fact that the team spent a night in a Moroccan airport summed up Gor’s disorganisation.

Gor Mahia’s financial woes makes a mockery of Caf’s licensing process. However, Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president Nick Mwendwa said the issuance of a license is done after a club proves that they have a sponsor and several sources of revenue.

“We don’t go into a club’s account to find out if they have money before we give them a license,” Mwendwa says.

“As long as they have a sponsor who has a proven track record of remitting funds and they can prove other sources of funding, we issue them with the license,” he said.

Mwendwa said he believes Gor Mahia did their best by reaching where they did and hopes vital lessons have been drawn to do better in future.