Shame: Some Gor Mahia players arrived at Kasarani on bodabodas

By Chrisphine Magak: Friday, April 12th 2019 at 08:17 GMT +3 | Football
Gor Mahia Captain Denis Oliech (left) ready for a corner kick during CAF Confederation Cup, quarterfinals first leg match against RS Berkane of Morocco at Kasarani stadium on Sunday, April 7, 2019. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Football fans may have wasted their sweet time shouting themselves hoarse in support of Gor Mahia when they faced Morocco’s RS Berkane in Kasarani recently.

The Nairobian has established that the game may have been given away by disgruntled players — in protest. It has emerged that as K’Ogalo players stepped onto the turf in their historic Caf Confederation Cup tie against a well-oiled Berkane side on that hot Sunday afternoon, deep in their hearts lay doubts. It was like walking into a heated war zone without a riffle.

These players, it has emerged, had not been paid their allowances dating back a long time, The Nairobian has learnt.

Skipped training

Take for instance the events of April 5, just two days to the high-octane match where the players went on protest after only receiving their accrued salaries — and not allowances as had been promised. The boys skipped training to express their disdain.

Gor Mahia Organising Secretary Judith Nyangi confirmed to The Nairobian that indeed players were paid all their outstanding salaries.

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“I can confirm that the players received their salaries before the match,” Nyangi said.

A number of Gor Mahia players spoke to The Nairobian on condition of anonymity — and opened their hearts on the events preceding the historic game.

“The management had promised to pay us all our salaries, allowances plus a token following our qualification to the quarters. The players were psyched up and ready to fight for the team on the pitch. But our morale drastically collapsed when we found out that only accrued salaries had been paid. The management promised each of us players Sh100, 000 token of appreciation — but they never delivered,” a player who sought anonymity told The Nairobian.

The Nairobian has also separately established that the playing unit decided in one accord to boycott a planned Saturday night camp at Sportsview hotel situated in Kasarani area.

Gor Mahia FC forward Nicholas Kipkirui falls down during their CAF Confederation Cup quarter-final match against RSB Berkane of Morocco at Kasarani stadium in Nairobi Kenya on April 07, 2019. RSB Berkane won 2-0 [Courtesy]

Two showed up

As confirmed by one member of Gor Mahia’s technical bench, the players were to report to the camp at 6:30pm — but only two showed up. The two are Burundian striker Francis Mustafa and Ugandan forward Erisa Ssekisambu, who are now considered by their colleagues as ‘traitors’.

“Camping started at 6:30 pm on the eve of the match (Saturday). Only two players; Ssekisambu and Mustafa reported plus all the members of technical bench including Team manager Jolawi Obondo, head coach Oktay Hassan and assistant coach Zico Otieno,” the official told The Nairobian.

He added; “Every other player joined us on match-day (Sunday). The last person to report arrived at 10 am.”

Mustafa and Ssekisambu, who joined the club in June and October 2018 respectively, declined talking to this writer for fear of victimisation.

“I can’t say anything about it. It was beyond me,” Ssekisambu said.

“Yes I was at the camp. I just thought it was wise to get some good rest ahead of the match,” Mustafa said.

Some fans took to social media after the 2-0 loss to blame players.

One fan calling himself Field Marshal Azuki Kanyambuya took to social media claiming he met Gor’s dependable defender — Philemon Otieno — looking for a nduthi at Fedha estate just one hour to the match.

“Imagine you are on your way to the stadium to cheer up your beloved team only to meet a senior player — way past noon —combing the streets trying to catch a motorbike to Kasarani? That’s how low our team has fallen. It’s sad,” said the fan adding: “I thought players are supposed to be in some sort of camp prior to a serious game? What kind of ineptitude is this?”

I saw off my hubby

The Nairobian sought the said defender — and who vehemently denied the allegations.

“I don’t live in Fedha estate. I live in Lucky Summer — which is a walking distance to Kasarani stadium. I reported to the camp at around 9 am, took lunch with the rest of the players and, as is the law, went to the match-venue two hours before kick-off,” he told The Nairobian.

His wife Maurine Okoth also came to his defence — explaining that the defender was prepared for the match in time.

She told The Nairobian they spent time together at home on Friday and Saturday before she off her hubby for the match on Sunday morning.

“I’m shocked to hear that Mbish (Otieno’s nickname) was seen in Fedha hours to the match. I really felt bad because I saw off my hubby to the camping venue — which is a walking distance from where we live.

“In fact, he had been with me here since Friday.

“I think whoever is spreading these allegations is just malicious,” Maurine said.

While expressing his surprise, head coach Hassan Oktay has now shifted his focus to upcoming matches — locally and continentally.

“Honestly, it makes me laugh. They (players) didn’t see how important this game was. Before this match, there were guys abroad who were eager to see how my players do their thing in hope of roping a few, but the narrative changed when they realised that the players performed averagely.

“But it is now a gone case. We need not to talk about this anymore because their (players’) morale will be affected. We now need to lift up their spirits. We need to focus more on our next matches,” he told The Nairobian.

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