Friday, 10 March 2017

The Curse of the New Boys - Hunting the Sharks

The Kenya Premier League is finally back after a delayed start orchastrated by the tussle over the number of teams to participate in the league and the club licensing fiasco. Gor Mahia has been drawn to play debutants Kariobangi Sharks in Thika and the Green Army will be expecting nothing short of a victory. The team has strengthened, notably in the midfield where it was felt that the departure of Ugandan midfield kingpin Khalid Aucho mid last season played a big role in derailing their quest for an unprecendented fourth consecutive league title. Aided by the fact that they will be playing a promoted team will no doubt add to a feeling of optimism.

But wait a second, when did Gor Mahia last win a match in their first encounter with a promoted team? Last year we beat newly promoted Kakamega Homeboyz 3-0 but that was after drawing with Posta Rangers 0-0.  Infact one has to go all the way back to 2010, when a double by Duncan Owiti "Macheda" (remember him?) and a goal by George Odhiambo "Blackberry" condemned Mahakama to a 3-1 defeat. Since then we have drawn 3 (Posta Rangers, Kakamega Homeboyz, Congo United) and lost 2 (Nakuru All Stars and Muhoroni Youth). Infact since 2011 we have not scored a goal in our first match of the season against a promoted team. Our record in the second match is slightly better, beating Kakamega Homeboyz last year and Bandari in 2011. The rest has been draws with a loss against Oserian in 2012.

Duncan Owiti "Macheda" was on the double the last time K'Ogalo won their first meeting against a newly promoted side

Gor Mahia has come a long way since that day in 2011 when Ezekiel Odera and Dan Makori were on the scoresheet against Congo United (the last time we scored a goal in our first match of the season against a promoted team) and fans will hope that the attacking force of Tuyisenge and Timothy Otieno who are the likely starters will finally break that duck.

Below are the results of our first encounters against newly promoted teams

Posta Rangers 0-0
Kakamega Homoboyz 3-0

Nakuru All Stars 0-2
KRA 0-0

Kakamega Homeboyz 0-0
Bandari 0-0

Muhoroni Youth 0-1
Oserian 0-1

Congo 2-2
Bandari 1-0

Mahakama 3-1
Posta Rangers 1-0

Friday, 4 November 2016

Its Squeaky Bum Time – When Tusker Wept…Then Gor Mahia Wept

On 29th October 1994, Kenya Breweries, nowadays known as Tusker FC prepared to meet Mumias Sugar FC in Nairobi. This was their most significant match to date in 16 years, an opportunity to finally win Kenya’s premier football league. They had watched Gor Mahia and AFC exchange the titles over the years, unable to do anything about it. The season begun on a low note for them, with losses against defending champions Gor Mahia and title rivals AFC Leopards and unconvincing performances in draws against Utalii, Sony and Mumias. But since then, Paul Onyera, Henry Motego and the captain Shem Nyaberi had laced their scoring boots and strung together a string of impressive victories.  AFC Leopards challenge badly faltered along the way but while not in swashbuckling form themselves, Gor Mahia had kept abreast with the Brewers, largely due to the industrious Allan Odhiambo who kept finding the back of the net in crucial games, waiting to pounce should the Brewers falter. On 14th August Allan was on the score sheet as they held the Brewers to 2-2 draw, other goals coming from Dan Shikanda for Gor Mahia and Boniface Oduor and Vincent Kwarula for Breweries. But the Ruaraka boys kept marching on until 12 October when Scarlet had won 3-2 thus setting up Gor Mahia to move in for the kill. And so on the Saturday of 29th October, Mumias came calling in.

Allan Odhiambo "Alle Alle" had kept Gor Mahia in the title race 

A win for Breweries would guarantee them their first league title in 16 years while a loss would open the door for Gor Mahia to be in the driving seat to retain the title for the second season running and for the fourth time in five years. Earlier in the season Henry Motego had scored a double to help them hold Mumias Sugar to a 2-2 draw in Mumias, cancelling out goals by Nick Yakhama and Philip Wesonga. So this was obviously going to be no easy match despite the fact that the sugar millers had not won in their last four matches. Abbas “Zamalek” Magongo had come in to score his last two goals for Gor Mahia to down Nzoia 2-1 and so Breweries needed to produce a result to completely shut out the door on K’Ogalo. Goals by Sammy Shollei, Vincent Kwarula and George Omondi should have been enough to secure the title but then Mohammed Seif, Bernard Onyango (2) and Phillip Wesonga struck to condemn the Brewers to a 3-4 home loss. After the game, Vincent Kwarula and Zaccheus Omondi broke down in tears, knowing that the opportunity they had craved for so long was gone.

This would have been a perfect ending for Gor Mahia fans had the story ended here but on the next day, a resolute Rivatex side held Gor Mahia to a barren draw thus again handing the initiative to Tusker! This time Festus Serenge made sure there would be no regrets, condemning Transcom to a 1-0. Tusker were thus able to dethrone K’Ogalo from the throne. In a way the story of the 2016 season resembles this story. Gor has been perched on the throne for three straight years with Tusker doing everything in their power to dethrone them. A poor start by Gor Mahia gave them the headstart they needed, and when Gor caught up, a 3 point deduction for crowd trouble ensured the Brewers maintained an advantage. And every time they slipped, Gor Mahia were unable to pounce. And just as they beat a Nakuru side to finally lay their hands on the trophy, this time they travel to Nakuru, hoping a win over K’Ogalo’s old enemy will finally hand them the trophy. For Gor Mahia fans, they can only hope that just as Vincent Kwarula and Zaccheus Omondi wept that Saturday evening 22 years ago, some players from the Ruaraka side will be weeping in Nakuru. But then, can Muhoroni still spoil the party as Rivatex did some 22 years ago in the event the Brewers falter? 

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

How The legend Began: Gor Mahia's Incredible Debut Season

After wrangles that had earlier hit the larger Luo Union Sports Club and the eventual formation of Gor Mahia, the team got down to business for the 1968 league season. The league was made up of 9 teams, namely;

1. Gor Mahia - Nairobi
2. Abaluhya (later AFC Leopards) - Nairobi
3. Liverpool (later Mwenge FC) - Mombasa
4. Nakuru All Stars - Nakuru
5. Kisumu Hot Stars - Kisumu
6. Ramogi (later Lake Warriors) - Mombasa
7. Maragoli (Later Imara FC) - Nairobi
8. Feisal FC - Mombasa
9. Maseno Harambee - Kisumu

Having carried over the legendary William Ouma "Chege" from Luo Union, Gor Mahia was expected to challenge for the league title. However it was expected that either one of the four teams, strong contenders Nakuru All Stars, perennial favourites Abaluhya and Mombasa's Liverpool and Feisal would emerge the winners. Gor Mahia would however begin the campaign in April by beating favourites Nakuru All Stars 2-1, with Walter Molo creating a little bit of history by becoming the first person to score for Gor Mahia in a competitive league match. The second game was the first "Mashemeji derby" as it has now come to be known, and William Ouma "Chege" bagged the first double for a Gor Mahia player as Abaluhya succumbed to a 2-1 loss. By the time Stephen Yongo scored a hattrick in a 6-2 demolition of Liverpool, it was clear that Gor Mahia were now title favourites as they went on an 8 game unbeaten streak. It took an extra-ordinary performance by Nakuru to stop them on their tracks, beating them 4-3 despite Chege's first league hattrick for Gor Mahia. Nakuru All Stars thus became the first team to beat Gor Mahia in a league match, a week after Ramogi had become the first team to deny them maximum points by holding them to a 1-1 draw.

Yongo, first hattrick for Gor Mahia, finished the season with 7 goals

A run of 3 consecutive wins ensured that Gor were in the driving seat for the title though Feisal would attempt to apply the brakes by becoming the first team to keep a clean sheet against K'Ogalo after winning 1-0 in Mombasa. Abaluhya FC were however determined not to let Gor win the title without a fight and had stayed within touching distance by matching Gor Mahia's recent results. Going into the penultimate round, Abaluhya needed to win their remaining two games and pray that Gor slip up before derby, set as the final game of the season, would decide the title. That penultimate game was against Kisumu Hot Stars in Kisumu while Gor faced off against Maseno. Kisumu Hot Stars beat the fancied Abaluhya 2-1 and Gor Mahia (playing without leading scorer Chege who had began a 9-month jail sentence for assault), made sure they finished the game by thumping Maseno 5-2. Gor Mahia thus become champions for the first time with the derby, ending 1-1 with goals from current Kisii Senator Chris Obure and Noah Wanyama, becoming a formality. The record was played 16, won 12, lost 2, drawn 2, scored 47 goals and  conceded 21 goals. And thus began the legend...

With this title it looked as though Gor Mahia was set to dominate the league but then the league was not played in 1969 (despite constant erroneous reporting by the media that it was won by Nakuru All Stars) and with the establishment of Kenya Breweries and the emergence of a stronger Abaluhya in the early 1970s, Gor would have to wait until 1974 for their next title. The rest, as they say, is history...

Link to the complete results for the 1968 season

Some interesting trivia from the first season for trivia lovers

  • Walter Molo became the first person to score a league goal for Gor Mahia
  • Stephen Yongo became the first person to score a league hattrick for Gor Mahia
  • Ramogi became the first team to deny Gor Mahia a league victory
  • Nakuru All Stars became the first team to hand Gor Mahia a defeat in the league
  • Feisal became the first team to keep a clean sheet against Gor Mahia in a league game
  • Gor Mahia won the first "Mashemeji" derby bragging rights
  • William Ouma Chege was Gor Mahia's first top scorer in a league season (19 goals), a feat recently matched by Michael Olunga (and Peter Dawo in 1987) and only bettered by three other players since then. This feat is even more incredible because it was a 16 game season and he missed the final two games because of a prison sentence
  • William Ouma Chege became the first player to score 4 goals for Gor Mahia in a single league game

Friday, 12 August 2016

A Tale of 2 Coaches - Is Ze Maria Underrated?

Ze Maria still in Nuttal's shadow

He has only been in charge of 15 league games and a section of the K’Ogalo nation are already getting restless with coach Ze Maria as Gor Mahia lie four points behind league leaders Tusker. Another 0-0 draw with Bandari made it 3 draws in the last five games, and with only 9 games to go, the fans are getting jittery.  While Ze Maria has maintained that his strategy includes laying foundations for the future, for a fanbase used to success in the recent past and with Frank Nuttal’s shadow never far off, nothing short of an unprecedented 4th league win in a row will keep them happy. At first glance I thought that Ze Maria’s league record is not that bad, despite of protestations by the so-called Nuttal Orphans. Maybe we are performing ok and it is other teams that have improved their performances? Taking cue from a similar comparison I did a while back when Nuttal was in his 20th league game, I thought the only way to find out is to compare his first 15 league games with that of his predecessor, and find out if his job is really that shoddy or whether all he needs is time.

Ave Points PG
Ze Maria
Frank Nuttal
As it turns out, Ze Maria’s and Frank Nuttal’s records are actually identical. So could it be that maybe fans took to Nuttal’s high tempo width and cross game as opposed to the deliberate and often intricate approach Ze Maria is trying to inculcate? Fans love goals and maybe we can use goals scored versus those conceded as a measure of how exciting the teams have been?

Goals scored (& average per game)
Goals conceded (& average per game)
Ze Maria
Frank Nuttal

Here we see Nuttal’s side were generally more attack minded, scoring an average of 1.9 goals per game as opposed to Ze Maria’s 1.3 goals. Ze Maria was a defender and maybe he has focused on the defensive discipline as his team only concedes an average of 0.3 goals per game compared to Nuttal’s 0.8 conceded in his first 10 games.

It looks like all Ze Maria needs to do is ensure the team scores more goals and maybe he will win over the fans. 

Friday, 8 July 2016

The Teams That Kept Winning

UPDATE: Correction. In this post I originally erroneously mentioned that Logarusic's 2012 team had 7 wins on the trot while naming 8 teams they won against. With this correction, Ze Maria's team with 7 wins would be looking to equal the record and not surpass it. The table has been revised though the article remains the same so read it with that context in mind

On my last post on unbeaten streaks in the league, I promised to write something about the winning streaks as well. Before I go back in time to look at some of the historically long winning streaks in the league by Gor Mahia, let me first say something about José Marcelo Ferreira, otherwise better known as Ze Maria. The Brazilian takes K’Ogalo to the lakeside City of Kisumu for a premiership game against Kakamega Homeboyz. A win for Ze Maria will see him record his 8th straight league victory thus surpassing the 7 game winning streak he currently shares with Zdravko Logarusic’ 2012 team. This is one more than Frank Nuttal set at the tail end of  2014 and beginning of the 2015 seasons and in mid 2015. Bobby Williamson’s longest winning streak was capped at 5 games. Ze Maria might not have won any trophy yet but he sure is proving to be just as good as his predecessors.  The following table shows the longest winning streaks in recent times including teams played and goals scored in the period.

Number of matches won
Clubs played Against
Goals For and Against
Zdravko Logarusic
Oserian, Ulinzi, Sony, AFC Leopards, Rangers, Karuturi, Tusker, Muhoroni Youth
13 – 2
Ze Maria
Sony, Bandari, Muhoroni Youth,  W Stima, Mathare, Sofapaka, Thika
12 – 1
Frank Nuttal
Muhoroni Youth, Ushuru, Mathare, Bandari, Chemelil, KCB
15 – 6  
Frank Nuttal
Nakuru All Stars, Muhoroni Youth, Thika, Tusker, Chemelil, Thika
15 – 1

Fans of Logarusic will of course be able to point out that what he has going for him is that his list does include the old enemy AFC Leopards! 

Ze Maria - Pic courtesy of Soka

But how do these Gor Mahia teams compare to the legendary teams of the past? One has to look no further than the 1976 team which won 14 league games on the trot! Previously the 1972 team had won 11 consecutive league games, a feat matched by the 1985 team that won the league for the 3rd time in a row. This team had previously in 1984 won 10 league games in a row, a feat matched by the history making 1987 team. Ze Maria definitely has his work cut out for him to match these achievements.  Let me summarize these in a table:

Number of matches won
Clubs played Against
Goals For and Against
Bata Bullets, Champion, MoW, Abeingo, Police, Maragoli, Police, Bata Bullets, Abaluhya, Prisons, Maragoli, Abeingo, Abaluhya, Champion
38 – 12
Algenya, Bunyore, Nairobi Spurs, Kenya Army, Kenya Breweries, Black Mamba, Gema, Hakati, Prisons, Aselimbe, Police
34 – 7
Kitale FC, Baruti, Maziwa, AFC Leopards, Rivatex, Nzoia, Shabana, Maziwa, KTM, Mombasa Wanderers, Kenya Breweries
30 – 6
Benham, Cargo, Lake Warriors, Nzoia, KTM, Breweries, Transcom, Rivatex, Kisumu Posta, Kahawa
33 – 10
Feisal, Busia Simba, Volcano, Kisumu All Stars, Lenana Warriors, Volcano, Breweries, Shabana, Reunion, Motcom
28 - 1

Trivia: The winning runs in 1972 and 1984 were stopped by our old enemy AFC Leopards (known as Abaluhya in the 70s)

Here’s to wishing Ze Maria’s boys all the best against Homeboyz and may the winning run continue!

Monday, 20 June 2016

On Unbeaten Streaks - Which Is the Longest In The League?

Last year K’Ogalo fans were treated to an incredible unbeaten run in the league on their way to extending a record breaking 15 league titles. The unbeaten streak running from the last two matches of the previous season (2014) however only extended into three matches at the beginning of the 2016 season to finally end at 35 matches. Many fans would be wont to believe that this is a record streak especially given the fact that the only often quoted streak is that of the old enemy, Ingwe, that stood at 47 in the 1985-87 period. Well, as impressive as going 35 matches unbeaten is, it is not the longest unbeaten streak in the league by Gor Mahia. And no, you don’t have to go back into the 70s to find K’Ogalo’s longest league unbeaten streak.

Having seen AFC Leopards dominate the league in the 1988, Gor Mahia set themselves up to the task of reclaiming their lost glory. After beginning the 1989 league on a losing note going down 0-1 to Kenya Breweries, Gor Mahia struggled to get their footing, winning only 3 of their first 10 games and drawing another 4 while losing 2. As fans began to give up on the team, Gor Mahia would put up a spirited fight for the rest of the season, winning 8 of their next 10 games and drawing only 2 to establish themselves as title challengers. A midseason slump would however see them draw 4 consecutive games between match day 24 and 27 (twice to Kisumu Posta, Raymond FC of Eldoret and MoW) before embarking on a 4 game winning streak in which they scored 14 goals. A draw against Shabana would however ensure the title went to AFC Leopards but Gor Mahia had by now gone 24 games without losing.

They would begin the 1990 season with the same momentum, winning 7 out of their first 10 games with only draws against Rivatex, AFC Leopards and Bandari keeping them in check. Just when it looked like MoW would stop them on match day 12, Peter Dawo game to the rescue with an equalizer after MoW had led for most of the game. Ensuing chaos resulted in a replay and Gor Mahia would hold their nerve in a hostile Kakamega ground to settle for a goalless draw. It would take another 8 games before Scarlet finally stopped them on match-day 21, winning 1-0 at Afraha Stadium.  The streak would end at 43 matches unbeaten with 28 wins and 15 draws.  

The class of 2015 fell 8 games short of this game but with 25 wins out of their unbeaten 35 games they were certainly the most prolific of the two sides when it came to winning games, having won 71% of their games compared to 65% of games won by 1989-1990 team.  The mid 1970s team was however slightly more prolific, winning 28 matches in a 32 matches for a 87.5% win ratio, just shedding the record of another 33 game unbeaten streak set in the early eighties when the team won 27 games  (82%).

As usual I will use a table to rank the best unbeaten streak to see how the sides have compared over the years.

# of matches unbeaten
% of wins

Next Week I will take a peek at K’Ogalo’s longest winning streaks. 

Tobias Ocholla, stalwart of the late 80s and early 90s K'Ogalo defence

Saturday, 11 June 2016

The Story of Sipping Tusker - Gor Mahia vs Tusker FC

Ever since Tusker FC established themselves as a top flight team in 1970 (then known as Kenya Breweries), their ambition was always to establish themselves as the top footballing team in Kenya. Their ambition was evident as they raided Abaluhya (now AFC Leopards) of some of their top players such as Charles Makunda and Livingstone Madegwa as well as snatching the likes of Peter Odera and Elly Adero from Gor Mahia. The media quickly began talking about the Big 3 to refer to them together with Gor Mahia and Abaluhya, albeit the fact that they were yet to win any game notwithstanding.  Since then, football matches between Tusker and Gor Mahia have been tightly contested and this tie is probably the second biggest tie in the country after Gor Mahia vs AFC Leopards – at least it was so in the 70s, 80s and 90s. Today, ahead of the Top 8 tie between Gor Mahia and Tusker,  I want to reflect on the history of the this tie and look at some of the significant numbers. Although I have records dating back to the first competitive tie between the two teams in 1970, I do not take into account the period between 2004 to 2006 when the league was marred in chaos. Hopefully I will be able to get the records straight for this period.

The first competitive match between the two took place on 2nd May 1970 in a Nairobi Provincial League encounter which ended in a 1-1 draw. Sadly I don’t have on record who scored on this day. Both teams would later qualify for the National League playoff and would meet again in the first leg with the Brewers beating Gor Mahia 3-1, the lone K’Ogalo goal being netted by Fred Siranga. As the government dissolved the FA that year, the league was thrown in chaos and would only resume in early 1971. After Abaluhya were declared champions once they had an insurmountable lead, it seems as if teams were no longer interested in the league and I cannot find records of the return leg.
The next time these two met would be in early 1972, again in the Nairobi Provincial League. This game was to be remembered as the game that has probably produced the fasted goal in Kenyan football. Straight from kick off, William Ouma Chege noticing that the Breweries keeper was yet to settle and still struggling with his gloves, shot straight at goal from the center spot. Both Daily Nation and Standard newspapers reported the goal as having been scored within 5 seconds of the referee kicking off the game. That goal settled the game and both clubs would qualify for the National League playoffs where Breweries exacted their revenge by eliminating Gor Mahia in the semi-finals, 2-0.

William "Chege" Ouma, fastest goal in Kenyan football?

The next few years saw Gor Mahia dominate the Brewers, winning the next 6 games in a row between 1973 and 1975, a run that included a Peter Ouma and John Chore inspired hattricks as Gor thumped them 3-2 twice in 1973, as well as a 4-1 thumping in the same year that was to be their biggest win against the Brewers in the 70s.

The 80s saw the Brewers determined to shackle Gor Mahia and they began the decade by holding Gor Mahia to a 1-1 draw and then thumping K’Ogalo 5-1 in the second leg of the 1980 season. This is the Brewers biggest win ever over Gor Mahia. Gor Mahia exacted revenge the following year by beating the Brewers 4-1 though they would later suffer three consecutive defeats between  1982 and 1983.

Players and Goals
Some of the top Gor Mahia players have always struggled in this fixture and one would be surprised to learn that leading all time scorers Hesbon Omollo and Allan Thigo only scored once in competitive fixtures against Tusker (though Omollo’s goal was massive in taking Gor Mahia to the 1986 Moi Golden Cup final). Other leading scorers Sammy Onyango “Jogoo” , Peter Dawo and Danny Sserunkuma only found the back of the net  twice but not to be deterred was John Chore “piki piki” who scored 7 times against the Brewers including being one of two Gor Mahia players to register a hattrick against Tusker in competitive games. Other players who have found joy in this fixture include George Onyango “Fundi”, Michael Olunga, Patrick Oyiengo and Allan Odhiambo.  The following list illustrate Gor Mahia’s all time leading scorers against Tusker.

John Chore
George Onyango “Fundi”
Abbey Nassur
Peter Ouma
Michael Olunga
Allan Odhiambo
Patrick Oyiengo


Before Olunga scored a double last year in the Top 8 semi finals, one had to go all the way back to 1995 to find the last time a K’Ogalo player scored a double against Tusker, Pius Wamaya scoring twice in a 4-0 rout in the league. Even more rare is a hattrick where you have to go way back to 1973 when John Chore was still banging in the goals! The following players have scored Hattricks or doubles against Tusker.

# of goals / Result
Peter Ouma
Oct 1973
3 (3-2)
Nairobi Provincial League
Phillip Gaetano
04 Nov 1973

2 (4-1)
Premier League
John Chore
14 Nov 1973
3 (3-2)

Premier League
Sammy Owino "Kempes"
01 March 1981

2 (4-1)
Premier League
Michael Adede

26 Oct 1983
2 (3-4)
Premier League
Allan Odhiambo

06 Nov 1991
2 (2-1)
Premier League
Pius Wamaya
13 May 1995
2 (4-0)
Premier League

Michael Olunga

04 Nov 2015
2 (2-1)
Top 8

Will there be a hattrick or doubles hero this year?

Pius Wamaya, one of the few Gor Mahia players to score more than once against Tusker