Why Gor Mahia are struggling in the Kenyan Premier League this season

By Rodgers Eshitemi: Friday, February 14th 2020 at 10:30 GMT +3 | Football
Gor Mahia FC fans prepare their music instruments during KPL match against Nzoia FC at Kenyatta Stadium [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

For the first time in many seasons, Gor Mahia seem to be struggling in the Kenyan Premier League after continental commitments.

Unlike the recent past seasons where the record Kenyan champions bounced back swiftly to dominate the domestic league with ease after exiting the continental scene, this campaign appears to be different if Gor’s recent performance is anything to go by.

Even though K’Ogalo are still sitting at the summit with 45 points and remain favourites to claim their fourth consecutive and record-extending 19th title, the battle is far from over.

The title race is heating up with the joint second-placed Tusker and Kakamega Homeboyz (41) breathing down Gor’s neck and ready to pounce at any slip-up opportunity.

The other top eight teams led by fourth-placed KCB (38), Ulinzi Stars (36), AFC Leopards (34) and Sofapaka (30) might be blowing hot and cold, but they are technically still in title contention.

And with Gor facing potentially six tough fixtures against AFC Leopards, Ulinzi Stars, KCB, Mathare United, Wazito and Tusker in their remaining twelve matches, K’Ogalo will have to dig deep to retain the crown.

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Since being eliminated from the Caf Confederation Cup by Congolese giants Motema Pembe in November last year, Gor who by then had three games in hand, have struggled to stamp their authority in the league.

Just after losing 2-1 to Motema Pembe in the play-offs second leg tie in Kinshasa, coupled by their documented financial constraints, Gor Mahia have been inconsistent in the league thus registering three losses and three draws in their last 15 outings.

As a result, they have had to exchange leads at the top of the table with other title chasers, Tusker and Kakamega Homeboyz.

K’Ogalo’s continental hangover coupled with players’ go-slows over unpaid salaries and allowances, Gor suffered a 1-0 defeat — their first of the season — to Mathare United on their return to the domestic action on November 6.

However, the 18-time league winners responded in style to thrash their perennial rivals AFC Leopards 4-1 and go on a six-match unbeaten run before falling 2-1 to Kakamega Homeboyz on January 12.

The defeat saw Gor drop to fourth place on the log (32 points), five points behind leaders Tusker, but with three games in hand.

Once again, Steve Polack’s men bounced back to win four matches on the trot with their rescheduled match, 2-1 victory over Sofapaka, finally taking them (41 points) to the summit followed by a 3-0 thrashing of Nzoia Sugar.

But Batoto Ba Mungu got their revenge on K’Ogalo by stunning them 3-1 in Narok and throw the title race wide open, barely two weeks after their encounter in Kisumu.

It is this result on February 8 that appears to have given the likes of Tusker and Kakamega Homeboyz some renewed hope of challenging for the title.

And Wednesday’s 1-1 draw against Western Stima in their final rescheduled match in Kisumu, shows that Gor are slowly but surely losing their fear factor in the league.

Though Gor have conceded only 13 goals, same as Ulinzi Stars, fewest goals conceded this season so far, breaking them down seems not a difficult proposition for most teams this year.

Tusker’s 1-0 win over AFC Leopards on Sunday, strongly put them back into the title contention, with a game in hand.

The stage is now set for fierce battle for KPL honours.

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