Saturday, March 17, 2012

Pre Match: Gor Mahia (A)

Tom Osanjo of Nation writes a historical article:-

A word of caution to ‘Camp Ingwe’ ahead of the ‘in-laws’ derby tomorrow: Gor Mahia is wounded and is seriously looking for someone to unleash their wrath on.
And the gods of football must have been on a very generous mood towards Gor by giving them their second victims in the KPL – the perennial irritants of AFC Leopards.

At present, the statistics on the Gor side are worrying and it is only the supporters with the K’Ogalo blood flowing in their veins that dare raise their heads and say it is not over until the fat lady sings.

A single win in the league followed by dismal performances and being booted out of a continental cup in the bargain does not really serve as an inspiration. Or does it?

No matter the form, Gor players have always known the history, the pride and the aspirations of the followers – the ‘Green Army’ – and have always risen to the occasion.

And although entering tomorrow’s match with conventional wisdom dictating that they are the underdogs, Gor fans want their players to know they are behind them 100 per cent.

While at it, they can as well throw conventional wisdom out the window and get down to the more important task of beating their old foes.

On the young Gor players rests the huge task of carrying on a fine tradition of ball wizards who have donned the green jersey in the past.

Who can forget the superb goals scored by the late Sammy “Jogoo” Onyango (now deceased) against AFC goalkeeper Mahmoud “Kenya One” Abbas at will? (Correction: John Busolo was in goal)

During a memorable one in the August or thereabouts of 1986, in the second leg match at City Stadium, Jogoo released a left footer well out of the box which left Abbas mouthing obscenities at his defenders.

Barely 10 minutes later, Jogoo was at it again and from the same spot. One would have paid a king’s ransom to hear Abbas one more time. Or who can forget Laban Otieno, the only player ever to score a hat-trick in the ‘masemeji’ derby?

Perhaps it would do a lot of good to the current Gor players if, on the day Otieno scored the hat-trick, K’ogalo hammer Ingwe 5-1. ‘Mission Impossible’? Not really; these boys can very well repeat the feat.

Another player Gor should well remember is John “Zangi” Okello, the ball juggler par excellence whose exploits saw him famously cross over to AFC where he was promptly given the Bukusu name of Wanyonyi.

Onto this rich legacy add the peculiarly Gor Mahia trait of the fiercely loyal, boisterous and entertaining supporters and all one can tell their opponents is that, as soon as the battle is joined tomorrow afternoon, be afraid. Very afraid.

Maybe one song the ‘Green Army’ normally sings will serve as a warning to AFC. In the song, Gor supporters lament that all the teams they have always been drawn against are minnows and that it is time someone brought to them Barcelona FC.

So, beat the war drums, take your seats and leave it to the people to suggest who the best in this contest is.

The Daily Nation also uses the statistics provided by your favourite blog and Claws Trust.

Collins Okinyo of Supersport predicts a 2-2 draw:-

Gor Mahia vs AFC Leopards (Live on SuperSport 9 East, Nyayo) STAR MATCH: 

Gor Mahia has lost its last three league matches with the poor results costing Coach Anaba Awono his job.

Though the team is easy on the eye, goals have been scarce with the players providing new coach Bobby Ogolla with a quandary of selections to get a winning team. 

K’Ogalo are 14th on the log with three points though myth has it that when they meet their arch rivals AFC Leopards, the form of either side does not matter and that the result of the game is determined by which team wants it more on the day. 

While Gor has struggled, Leopards have been the team to watch with the team winning four out of five matches so far. 

Ingwe who are on top of the league table with 13 points, have achieved the feat by sheer hard work and determination combined with tactical prowess by Dutch coach Jan Koops.

In Allan Wanga, Victor Ochieng, Patrick Matasi and Jimmy Bagaye, the club has finally found the men that can carry their hopes of reclaiming the elusive league title. 

Prediction: 2-2

Carol Radull of The Star predicts a 3-1 win for Leopards.

My Prediction: K’Ogalo 1 – 3 Ingwe

Interesting indeed that these two age-old rivals are meeting at a time when their fortunes are so different. Gor Mahia are struggling and there’s no flowering the situation. K’Ogalo have managed just one win this season in all competitions; an opening day league victory over Thika United. They opened the season with a loss to Tusker in the DSTV/Supersport Cup before the Thika victory; then went on to lose home and away to Ferroviario du Maputo in the Confederations Cup; to Muhoroni Youth, Karuturi Sports and finally to Tusker this week. It’s awful. The team “disbanded” their technical bench last week but now interim coach Bobby Ogollah has admitted he’s in way over his head. On Thursday he appealed to the club to hire him an assistant. Tragic.

However K’Ogalo did play well in the first half against Tusker on Wednesday but it wasn’t enough. Ingwe on the other hand are top of the league and unbeaten in their last 18 league matches; all under coach Jan Koops. Allan Wanga is on fire literally scoring in just about every match. Goalkeeper Patrick Matasi let in his first goal this season in last week’s 2-1 victory over Muhoroni. But this is a derby and anything can happen. Mentally I know Gor will want to win this game if they are to ever take off this season; while for AFC it will be a true test considering the only losses under Koop’s belt have been last July’s league loss to Gor (although Koops had only been in charge for 3 days) and the loss to Gor in the FKL Cup semi finals. Mmmmh. I however feel AFC are more mentally prepared.

Francis Wadegu of The Star also writes:-

Fifteen years ago this was an encounter that could have been billed as a potential title decider. However, tomorrow when Gor Mahia host AFC Leopards in a Kenya Premier League tie their targets could not be more diverse. For K’Ogallo, who have lost their last three league matches in which they have not scored, anything short of three points could be disastrous as they could find themselves bottom of the table on Monday while Leopards need only a point to stay top. Having, lost their last encounter on Wednesday, falling 2-0 to defending champions Tusker was not the ideal preparation for such a high octane clash.

While coach John Bobby Ogolla, who was in charge for the first time after spending only a week training the club, pointed a finger at his defense for the defeat against Tusker what was not lost in all that is the fact in five competitive games since the two goals against Thika in the opening league weekend, Gor are yet to hit the back of the net.

With striker Hugo Nzoka still in the recovery room and Demonde Selenge and Edwin Lavatsa yet to reach hit peak form k’Ogallo have had to rely on Cameroonian Baldwin Ngwa for goals and he is yet to deliver. No such problems for the league leaders though. In five outings they have conceded none and have now scored eight goals in those matches, the highest in the division.

With all their strikers etching names on the scoresheet, Leopards’ coach Jan Koops has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal. Alan Wanga, Victor Ochieng have inked their names on the scorers list this season Koops is also quick to point out that current form counts for nothing in such encounters. “Gor will no doubt want to win this match because they have not been getting good results lately so we expect a tough match tomorrow and we will be up for it,” he said.

Leopards have no major injury worries with Mike Barasa expected to be back in action with only young striker Emmanuel Tostao a long term absentee. K’Ogallo meanwhile apart form missing Nzoka will be without winger Kevin Ochieng who is still nursing a hamstring injury.
James Waindi of the Standard took a different angle by talking to the father of AFC Leopards' Victor Ochieng who happened to be one of the goal scorers of Gor Mahia against Leopards!

Maurice 'Sonyi' Ochieng' is a living legend in Gor Mahia’s history, having steered the 12 times Kenyan Premier League winners to the title in 1976 with an unbeaten record courtesy of his record 26 goals.

Sonyi has also steered K’Ogalo to the Cecafa title and the Mandela Cup while on the team’s technical bench and admits that the club has a special place in his heart.

He is, however, worried that his own blood could put the team he loves to the sword when AFC Leopards and Gor renew their rivalry on Sunday in a league derby at the Nyayo National Stadium.

His son Victor Ochieng’ in January opted to join Leopards instead of his father’s preferred choice Gor, who had been chasing his signature even while he was still with the national team in Tanzania for the regional tournament.

The striker has rediscovered his goal scoring touch that saw him net 11 goals in 15 matches for Chemelil Sugar in the second leg of the season last year. 

He single handedly broke Muhoroni Youth’s resistance last Sunday after coming off the bench to set up Allan Wanga for the equalising goal before scoring the winner to give Ingwe a laboured win over the league debutants.

"Victor is a very good striker and I am worried he could be the one punishing Gor on Sunday. His decision to join AFC Leopards is still okay with me. 

"When he told me he had made up his mind on joining Leopards I told him I would support him fully and I believe he has a bright future," said Sonyi.

He added: "My record of 26 goals in a season still lives on 36 years later, but I believe my son can break it. He can still follow my footsteps even at AFC Leopards, he doesn’t have to necessarily be at Gor Mahia, but he has to ensure he is in the starting line-up because strikers can’t score goals from the bench."

Sonyi said anything was possible at Sunday’s derby, but noted that AFC Leopards were the favourites, given their quality recruitment and good coach.

The two sides meet at a time when Gor is experiencing a downward spiral, winning a single match in six attempts, while Leopards have won four out of five and are yet to lose any match. 

Gor also expelled the entire technical bench last week.

However, as history tells, the weaker side between the rivals always rise to the occasion when they clash and it will be interesting to see if Gor can achieve that on Sunday.

Robin Toskin of the Standard was in a quick rejoinder to the retort of Gor Mahia speaking to Allan Wanga.

The idea that the in-form team between Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards loses the derby is pub banter, according to Ingwe’s red-hot striker Allan Wanga.

"I have always known that you only talk of a result after 90 minutes," Wanga said ahead of their Sunday clash in the Kenyan Premier League.

Gor Mahia midfielder Collins Okoth appeared to goad Leopards when he was quoted saying they fear nobody in reference to Ingwe’s imperious form that has seen them rake in 13 points from a possible 15.

"We are Gor Mahia and we fear no one. We are ready for battle. We want to have the bragging rights in the derby," Okoth told a local daily on Thursday.

He added: "Leopards good form does not necessarily make them favourites. We are going into the match as equals."

Wanga, who will be playing in his first eternal derby said: "Okoth is entitled to his opinion. As for us we will approach the game like any other."

The former Tusker and Petro Atletico (Angola) hit man shrugged off the notion he is a marked man and would find it difficult against Gor Mahia defenders given the likely VIP treatment he could be given on Sunday.
Van Persie

"Van Persie (Robin) has been Arsenal’s main man up front yet nothing seems to stop him from scoring. So, because I want to rank among the best strikers it is up to me to find a way of scoring. However, it will also depend on how the coach wants us to approach the game."

Leopards are the overwhelming favourites going into the fixture as Gor Mahia have now lost five competitive matches with the latest being their 2-0 defeat at the hands of Tusker.

K’Ogalo coach John Bobby Ogolla insisted in the aftermath of the loss that he was encouraged by the team’s first half performance and the attitude of the fans.

"They (fans) were incredibly supportive when we played Tusker. I thought the boys too gave a good performance. It indicated they have the hunger and will to succeed," Ogolla said.

He added: "We are in a crash programme to improve their physical condition. We are also trying to motivate them. That is what they need now. You will see some changes against Leopards on Sunday."

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