Have Gor already won the league?
November 11, 2012. I’ll never forget that day. It was the day that Kenyan football giants Gor Mahia were finally going to win the Kenyan Premier League for the first time since 1995.
Everybody knew that by 5pm that day they would be singing and dancing to celebrate a feat that had eluded them for 17 years.
Gor Mahia fans, management and players were so confident that they were going to win that they already had printed T-shirts with “Gor Mahia: 2012 KPL Champions,” and many fans were already wearing them.
They also had a victory party already planned at the world famous Carnivore Restaurant for that evening. They weren’t the only ones who knew they would win.
Bar owners all over Nairobi and Kisumu had stocked up to ensure that they didn’t run out of beer or nyama choma for the festivities that were to follow. It was a done deal!
The belief that the title was theirs was so strong that when it didn’t happen tears flowed freely. Grown men and women at the City Stadium where the final match against Thika United was taking place, openly shed tears. Players cried, with goalkeeper Jerim Onyango blaming himself for conceding a goal that denied them the title. Jerim was so heartbroken that he didn’t participate in the FKF Final that came soon after the league wrapped up.
November 11, 2012 was a sad day for Gor Mahia, which was made even worse by the high expectations.
Fast-forward to today and that hope is back but this time the situation is different. There is every reason for every Gor fan and official to be hopeful.
Unlike last season, when Zdravko Logarusic joined the club when they were near the bottom of the standings and looked hopeless, fighting to get to the top was hard but possible.
Bobby Williamson took charge when Gor Mahia was second in the standings with two games in hand. So Bobby doesn’t find the team in a bad spot and if he does half the job Logarusic did last season, Gor will win the league with several matches to play. The good news for Gor supporters is that Bobby Williamson is twice the coach Logarusic was; at least on paper. So this time around there is every reason for the Green Army to be overconfident.
When I look at the K’ogalo play it is pleasing to my football eye. Yes they have some moments where they lack concentration; like in the second half against Western Stima last Sunday; but somehow they hold on to get the three points. Even Coach Williamson said it on Sunday that the boys are beginning to look like the team he wants to assemble, but they still have some distance to go. The Gor play is looking neater and the players look motivated.
I also like the fact that Williamson, just like Logarusic before him, is a disciplinarian. Despite the fantastic goals that Paul Kiongera is firing into the net, unacceptable celebrations are banned. Kiongera was carded for his celebration following his wonder goal against Stima and got an earful from Coach Williamson for earning an unnecessary card.
The coach is looking further down the line when accumulated cards will mean a ban and I don’t think Kiongera or any other Gor player will be deliberately breaking the rules any time soon.
Unlike where Logarusic found himself after two games in charge, Williamson is at the summit; four points clear and with a game in hand. Catching Gor under Williamson will be next to impossible I think. To give some credit to Logarusic, had he found Gor in the position Williamson did, he would have won it hands down; but it’s clear to see that Williamson knows exactly what he is doing.
The coach is also not celebrating too early and while I’ll miss the theatrics that Loga used to display, Williamson has an air of surety about him. Nothing is a fluke; he knows what he needs to do on and off the pitch. He also knows not to count his chickens before they hatch.
I can reliably say that a section of the Green Army counted those chickens the day Williamson was signed. They declared that they would win the league with between three and five games to spare. That’s ambitious but more realistic this year than last year.
I would advise those businessmen and women who lost out financially last season when Gor didn’t win, that they will certainly make money this season. Since Gor “will win it” with three games to spare, (although I’m not very convinced of that) it will mean almost a month of celebration before the trophy is presented, and then they’ll continue to celebrate through Christmas.
Don’t get me wrong fellas, I’m not saying all this because I’m a K’ogalo fan. In fact I support every team in the league. I’m saying this because right now the club seems to have its ducks in a row.
The management is behaving, they have brought in a credible coach, the players are delivering and the fans are packing the stands to support them. The most important reason is their position on the table.
I should be careful with my predictions but I am ignoring that voice of sanity and declaring here and now that on paper Gor Mahia have already won the Kenyan Premier League.