It's time for Gor Mahia to conquer Africa, says Oktay

By Rodgers Eshitemi: Saturday, May 25th 2019 at 02:50 GMT +3 | Football
Gor Mahia Coach Hassan Oktay(R) instructs his striker Jacques Tuyisenge against Lobi Stars of Nigeria during their CAF confederation qualifier match at Kasarani Stadium on Sunday, December 16, 2018. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Gor Mahia will continue dominating the Kenyan football for many years to come and even conquer Africa soon.

That was the view of head coach Hassan Oktay after guiding K'Ogalo to their third consecutive SportPesa Premier League title and unprecedented 18th crown with a 1-1 draw against relegation-threatened Vihiga United on Wednesday in Machakos.

The record Kenyan champions (70) will be officially handed their 18th historic crown for keep today away to Posta Rangers at Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos.

The Cypriot-Turkish coach has had a stellar campaign on his first season at Gor, leading them to their first ever CAF Confederation Cup quarterfinals.

However, indiscipline, lack of priorities by players, poor management and preparation cost club dearly in their two-legged tie against eventual finalists RS Berkane of Morocco, who thrashed the record Kenyan champions 7-1 on aggregate.

Interestingly, Gor upset Zamalek (the other finalist) 4-2 in their opening Group D match at Kasarani before the Egyptian giants overturned the deficit to maul K'Ogalo 4-0 in the return leg tie.

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But having dominated the local scene by claiming six of the last seven league titles, Oktay craves continental success with Gor.

And going by their recent performance in the continental competitions, the coach believes it's now time for the 1987 Mandela Cup winners to revive their lost glory in Africa.

"As far as I'm concerned, Gor Mahia is a brand in itself and one of the best teams not only in the region but Africa at large," Oktay told Standard Sports.

"But I need to improve this team and take it to the next level. We tried this season and even managed to qualify for the Confederation Cup quarterfinals. We had great potential but the problems we had couldn't allow us to go further.

" All the same, I believe next season is the best time for us to conquer Africa. Remember, Gor  is one of the best 16 clubs in Africa, so with good preparation and recruitment everything is possible." 

Oktay further revealed that he has turned down lucrative offers from an Egyptian club, two Turkish sides and two Angolan teams to leave the Kenyan giants.

"Yes, it's true I did get good offers from other clubs within and outside Africa before we won the league. Two Angolan clubs, an Egyptian club and two from Turkey had given me lucrative offers, but I told them I'm happy where I'm. That's why I'm still here, I want to rewrite history with this mighty club," he said.

"I have coached in Europe, Asia and other African countries, but one team that has touched my heart is Gor Mahia. This is my family."

Though he won the title with two matches to spare, Oktay is somehow disappointed for not achieving his over 15 points' gap.

"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 points' gap," he said.

"Those were my expectations with this is an amazing team that has been working hard both on and off the pitch."
Gor Mahia's SPL titles since 2013
2016-Runners up
2018/2019-Champions (To be officially crowned today in Machakos)

Today's SPL fixtures
Sony Sugar v Nzoia Sugar-Awendo (1 pm)
Chemelil Sugar v Mathare United-Awasi 
Posta Rangers v Gor Mahia-Machakos (4.15pm)
KCB v Ulinzi Stars-Machakos (2 pm)
Zoo v Kakamega Homeboyz-Kericho
Kariobangi Sharks v Mt. Kenya United-Kasarani
Bandari v Sofapaka-Mbaraki
Vihiga United v Western Stima-Bukhungu
AFC Leopards v Tusker-Machakos (4.15pm)
NB-All matches kick off at 3 pm unless stated.