Why Kipkirui can smile again after unending financial woes at Gor

Nicholas Kipkirui (left) and Jacques Tuyisenge lead part of the team (Gor Mahia) in celebrating as the Champions of Kenya Premier Lleague 2018-19 at Kenyatta Stadium on May 25, 2019. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Former Gor Mahia striker Nicholas Kipkirui has revealed how unending financial challenges at K’Ogalo forced him to leave the club for FKF Premier League returnees Nairobi City Stars.

From going for months without pay to being locked out of his house in Nairobi over unpaid rent before temporarily relocating to his native home in Kericho, the ex-Zoo FC man had seen it all during his two and a half years bittersweet stay at Gor.

And it is because of some of those reasons that the 24-year-old striker had to invoke article 14 of the Fifa’s Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players that allows a player to terminate a contract with just cause for outstanding salaries.

Kipkirui then shunned offers from Tusker, KCB and Ulinzi Stars to sign a one and half year deal with City Stars and consequently join the growing list of players ditching the financially strapped Gor Mahia.

“Everything happens for a reason and situation. I can’t blame anyone for my move from Gor Mahia but the club’s current situation forced me to leave,” Kipkirui told Standard Sports.

In August last year, Joash Onyango ditched K’Ogalo for Tanzanian giants Simba SC owing to unpaid salaries just a few days after the duo of Fredrick Odhiambo and Boniface Omondi had crossed over to Wazito.

Tanzanian goalkeeper David Mapigano and Ugandan striker Juma Balinya also left the Green Army under the same circumstances. Harambee Stars midfielder Lawrence Juma followed suit when he signed for Sofapaka in October.

And just like Zoo where he left a legacy after his ten goals helped them survive relegation in the 2017 season and consequently earned him the young player of the year award as well as a move to Gor Mahia, Kipkirui seems to have equally left quite an imprint at K’Ogalo after winning three Premier League titles in a row (2018, 2018/19 and 2020) and Super Cup

He quickly became the darling of Gor Mahia fans thanks to his strong character, determination and scoring prowess that inspired the club to three Premier League titles triumphs in a row (2018, 2018/19 and 2020) and a Super Cup glory.

Apart from bagging a brace against their archrivals AFC Leopards in May 2019, he scored some crucial goals for Gor Mahia both on the local and continental scene.

Kipkirui announced his arrival on the continental scene with a debut goal in their 4-2 victory over Egyptian giants Zamalek in the Group stages of the CAF Confederation Cup in February 2019 before coming off the bench to score the winner against APR of Rwanda (3-1, 4-3 on aggregate) in the Champions League preliminary round reverse fixture at Nyayo Stadium last December.

Nicholas Kipkurui in a match against Tusker FC during FKF Premier League at Utali Grounds on Saturday, March 20, 2021. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Despite the successes, Kipkirui claims that the unrelenting financial crisis at the 19 time Kenyan champions slowed down his professional journey and life.

“When you leave the house stressed up, there is no way you will concentrate and deliver 100 per cent on the pitch.  As a professional footballer, you must be stable, in the right frame of mind and in good health for you to perform consistently at this level. The off the pitch issues will definitely affect your performance and that’s exactly the situation I have found myself in lately,” he explained.

“I understand the money the sponsor was giving the club was not good enough to cater for all our needs. But it is obvious once there is less sponsorship, the club will struggle. And for one to make such a decision of leaving a team of Gor Mahia caliber, you must have consulted widely.”

He added: “I think this was the right time for me to leave, but those financial challenges played a big role in my decision making. You can only achieve your targets when you are stable. I left the club in good faith after discussing and agreeing with the officials.”

Though Kipkirui did not make an impressive debut against league leaders Tusker on Saturday, he believes his continental experience will help the Simba wa Nairobi achieve their targets on their return to the topflight football.

“I was not pleased with my debut performance. I need to work extra hard to regain my fitness level and form,” said Kipkirui.

“Of course expectations are high, but I don’t have any pressure. I’m determined to hit the ground running and make everyone happy. As a striker my job is to score goals and that is exactly why I came here at City Stars.  But we need to work hard as a team and achieve the set targets.”

City Stars captain Anthony ‘Muki’ Kimani was more than excited with Kipkirui’s signing tipping him to become a key player at the club.

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