McKinstry eager to restore Gor's lost glory

Gor Mahia players pose for a photo during the unveiling of their jerseys for the 2022/23 FKF Premier League season in Nairobi yesterday. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

After a long wait, the 2022/23 Football Kenya Federation Premier League season is finally here with us.

The new season is set to kick off tomorrow with several matches on the card.

One of the highlights of the opening round of fixtures will be a match between 19 times champions Gor Mahia and visiting Nzoia Sugar FC at Nyayo Stadium.

Gor Mahia’s head coach Jonathan McKinstry yesterday told the visitors not to expect a fruitful outing in the city as K’Ogalo is very much ready to dent their hopes in the opening encounter.

“We have had a good pre-season, we are now moving into the league, we are confident we are in a good place as we head for the start.

“We are fully focused to tackle Nzoia, we will see what to take from them, hopefully it will be three points,” the 37-year-old Northern Ireland tactician told Standard Sports.

And yesterday, Gor Mahia received a motivational boost ahead of the game after their sponsors SportPesa unveiled them new custom made replica jerseys.

The uniforms will be retailing at Sh2500 in various designated zones soon to be announced by the team.

“Kindly shun fake jerseys, buy the originals, also rally behind the team, turn up in large numbers to support Gor Mahia on Saturday,” SportPesa Marketing and Operation Manager Tesh Njenga said during the unveiling ceremony held in Nairobi.

Despite being bullish ahead of the league kick-off, McKinstry is wary of the flu that hit the camp last week, putting them out of training at their Camp Toyoyo base.

“About 15  players got sick, but all have resumed their exercises even though two more are still low on energy,” the former Uganda Cranes tactician explained.

Nonetheless, McKinstry is happy with how their long pre-season training has turned out, shaping the squad both physically and tactically.

“Apart from the flu, I think my boys are looking good, we have no muscular injuries, I can say most are fit and healthy.

“I believe we met our tactical and technical objectives in relation to fitness during the period,” the coach stated.
About his target for the season, the former Kauno Zalgiris tactician says he has no blanket mission with K’Ogalo as he has set his key performance indicator for week by week.

“This is due to the current challenges we are going through, as you know we are unable to sign up for new players due to the ongoing Fifa ban.

“The current transfer ban has seen us promote nine players from the youth side which I’m confident will be up to the task and will help us to compete with the rest in the league,” he underlined.

McKinstry pledged to be consistent on his weekly targets so as to build a formidable side that could be contenders to the gong in the season.

The coach said he already knows which areas to beef up in the squad once K’Ogalo’s transfer ban ends in January, adding that he has already identified five players to add to the team.

“We already know where the gaps are, now the rest is to fill them, this is business that will be completed early in January,” McKinstry said.

Gor Mahia captain Philemon Otieno echoed his coach’s sentiments saying they are ready to give their best against Nzoia.

“As senior players, we have been mentoring the youths who have been promoted to the main squad, we believe that with the right mentality they will be able to help us perform better in this league,” Otieno underscored.

Otieno predicted that this league is theirs to lose as their sponsors SportPesa has returned the side to its winning ways.

“Apart from the Fifa ban I think we were unable to win the league last season due to financial constraints, but with SportPesa we are now back to where we belong,” the skipper stated.

Otieno is glad that  McKinstry has brought in a new philosophy in the team which he is confident will work out to their advantage.

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