NAIROBI, Kenya, January 20 – There is no honeymoon for re-elected Gor Mahia chairman, Ambrose Rachier, after recapturing his seat in a bruising election on Sunday with the in-tray at the club already overflowing ahead of a busy season.
Having sat out of the high table of African football for 18 years, K’Ogalo are back to the CAF Champions League and uncertainty over the elections that were postponed from December forming a cloud over preparations.
Last season, the incoming KPL chairman and his team, steered Gor to their first league title in 18- years, something he noted was a big achievement during his six year tenure.
Sunday’s polls saw three incumbents retain their seats, with the rest getting the opportunity to serve in the most prestigious club in the country for the first time.
It will not be an easy ride for the new officials, since there is a lot at stake that they need to deliver by the time their term comes to a close.
First of all they need to ensure K’Ogalo defends the league and ensure the club achieves the heights of their 1987 glory when they reigned in the now defunct CAF Cup Winners Cup (Mandela Cup), the first and only Kenyan club to do so on the continental scene.
Also on the programme is the Cecafa Club trophy, GOtv Shield and KPL Top 8.
Even as Rachier said in his acceptance speech, “The electioneering period ends today (Sunday), and tomorrow (Monday) we embark to deliver what we promised Gor family.”
The truth of the matter is the officials have little, if any, time to settle with the clock ticking ahead of their preliminary round Champions League clash on the weekend of February 8 against Gabonese side US Britam, before they begin their KPL defense four days later.
According to the prominent lawyer, to enable the dream come true, they have extended the contract of Scottish head coach Bobby Williamson to three years, resting rumours he was due to ditch the club for Tanzanian giants Yanga SC.
The Green Army will highly depend on the former Uganda Cranes tactician and the entire technical bench for a good run this season and hope for a 1987 repeat when Gor clinched a treble, going on to win the CAF Cup Winners Cup, domestic Moi Golden Cup and the league.
It’s eagerly waited to see how they will perform in the continental assignment, bearing in mind K’Ogalo will play with a squad that has less two players, after speedy winger Edwin Lavatsa, who signed with Algerian side MC Algier and Paul Kiongera who returned to KCB, departing after their names had been submitted to CAF.
All eyes are on incoming Secretary General, Chris Omondi, who runs the day to day affairs of the club who takes over from George Bwana who opted not to defend his seat.
“I’m very happy to have managed Gor, and it’s during my tenure that we awarded the dying Green Army with the trophy after 18-years and not forgetting we have signed the best players in the region.
“In the cause of the week, I will invite the press, to witness the handing over to the new officials. I do wish them all the best as they embark on building the team.”
Gor have the untapped opportunity to be ranked among the richest club in Africa, to join the likes of African club champions, Al Ahly or even closer home Yanga and Simba SC of neighboring Tanzania owing to their bedrock support in the country.
Yanga and Simba through their fans have managed to own commercial buildings including splashing a huge outlay on securing the services of the best players from even beyond their border by simply marshalling their support towards commercialising the running of the team.
Rachier and his team need to borrow a leaf from these giants that have extended their fan base beyond their nations owing to their regular success on the regional and continental front where they qualify to the latter stages of competition year in, year out.
With a fan base that is willing to follow the club wherever the go, forking out thousands and to some, hundreds of thousands of shillings to be part of the devoted Green Army, it is baffling that Gor are yet to own their own stadium and a merchandise machinery that can develop them into a continental force.
With the potential income they can generate as well as the patronage they enjoy from high ranking persons in the Kenyan society as well as sponsorship money they earn from Brookside Dairies and SuperSport, Gor are quite capable of owning a world class Stadium, have a secretariat and effectively compete at the highest level.
“The past office bearers failed terribly in their leadership since despite their long tenure, they have not done any tangible thing for the club.
“Even locating a place and build our own office is a problem. The secretariat at Nyayo Stadium we do pay Sh80, 000 (USD 930.450) per month, why can’t we use this money to construct our own?
“As we are speaking the club has no replica jersey, the merchandise is being sold in the street by any one and most of them are not genuine,” Erick Adede, who lost to Rachier in the chairmanship, said on Sunday after voting.
But the chairman during the campaign period, said he has unfinished business with the club, and he needed another term to complete the mission.
The question is, what unfinished business he has not accomplished in six years that will be complete over the next three years?
“My priority is to start a foundation for the K’Ogalo Stadium on the land that had been provided to the club by retired President Daniel Arap Moi.
“We intend to construct the facility that will reduce the expenses of hiring the Stadium for our practice and games that will be a source of our revenue.
“My second objective that I need to achieve, is establishing a corporate society since we have such a huge following that we need to exploit and have the society, that takes care not only the interest of the players, but for the Gor fraternity in general.
“I also intend to affect a reform in terms of constitution and structures because we need to align our statutes into accord with the Sports Act,” Rachier said after recapturing his seat.
While it sounds like the kind of talk that dovetails with the vision of former chairman, Lesley Okudo, who wanted to turn Gor into a Private Limited Company, Rachier simply does not have the time to dilly-dally over leading K’Ogalo to the next era that is long overdue.
Winning the league after a generation will only be a stepping-stone to greatness if the momentum is sustained over the next season.
Already, the uncertainty over the incoming team saw Gor commit the cardinal mistake of refusing to tie key players such as the departed defender, Donald Mosoti, Lavatsa, Kiongera and custodian Ivo Mapunda to long term deals before hand.
This means Rachier, his team and the technical bench have the challenge of turning their new-look line-up having recruited heavily in the close season into a cohesive unit that can hit the ground running.