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Not over till the fat lady sings

It’s our human nature to be impatient. It’s also our human nature to be optimistic and sometimes a little over-confident, especially when things are going well. We love to count our chickens before they hatch.

Nearly every football analyst I spoke to in the weeks prior to the final day of the 2012 Tusker Premier League season predicted that Gor Mahia would win the league. They sang and sang about it, especially after Gor beat then league leaders Tusker FC and settled at the summit of the standings. It was a given; it was written.

Oh how the singing was so out of tune!

When Gor management got into a tussle with the KPL over how much money the winning side would receive; then I knew they were beginning to lose it. KPL CEO Jack Oguda clearly explained that since Tusker only took up title sponsorship in September, the full amount of prize money could not and would not be realised this year. Besides; no confirmed figure had ever been released. I was just concerned that K’ogalo were already counting money that they had not yet earned.

When I heard that a group of Gor fans, or perhaps just business opportunists, had gone ahead to print T-shirts with “Gor Mahia 2012 Tusker Premier League champions” written on them, then I knew that the off-tune singing was getting worse. The plan was to unleash the T-shirts when Gor was winning by a big margin; and I agree it would have looked impressive at the final whistle. Confidence is not a bad thing at all, but over-confidence needs to be checked.

No wonder the pain was so tough to bear on Saturday when reality dawned that they would not be lifting their 13th title. Sometimes it’s better to just wait and let the fat lady sing first.

Just as well Gor didn’t win the league title. When I interviewed Zravko Logarusic on Simba Super Soccer last week, I asked him whether the Gor squad, as it was, could make an impact in the CAF Champions League. He said a plain “no!” He would have had to recruit heavily to compete on Africa’s stage.

Gor still have a chance at continental football with their semi final FKF Cup match against AFC Leopards scheduled for this Sunday. I wonder if they’ll go into this game as confident as they have been all season. They should because, like I said, confidence isn’t a bad thing but too much of anything is dangerous.

When I interviewed Tusker coach Robert Matano on Simba Super Soccer two weeks ago, he was cautiously optimistic that they would win the title. He knew that the loss to Gor Mahia meant that their destiny was no longer in their hands, but he said he would focus on the job that needed to be done. He said he had to win their last two matches, against Western Stima and City Stars; and that’s exactly what he did.

He hoped and prayed that Gor would slip and, when they did, Tusker was waiting to grab the top spot. Of course ,after winning the trophy, Matano said he always knew they would do it; but we all know that’s just victory talk. It’s okay to speak like that when the job has been done.

Tusker, unlike Gor Mahia, preferred to let the fat lady sing and then celebrate the outcome.

AFC Leopards too were singing way too early. In fact, Ingwe won the league in April, or so they thought. The over-confidence that saw them take a home game to Mombasa was the beginning of the end for them. Their 23 game unbeaten run ended when they began to see the finish line without realising that the journey was far from over. They thought they might just get a song in before the fat lady.

Unlike Tusker, AFC would not have taken advantage of Gor Mahia slipping. The insults I got from Ingwe fans on facebook when I posted statistics last week showing that AFC had failed to beat Chemelil in their last nine meetings. The fans clearly spelled it out to me that Saturday’s match against Chemelil would be a formality and that them winning the title would depend on Gor and Tusker slipping. Ultimately their loss to Chemelil on Saturday sealed their own fate.

It was sad but I guess that’s what happens when your focus is skewed.

I keep saying that it is not wrong to be confident, but caution with that confidence is key.

Before you count your chickens; wait for the fat lady to sing!

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