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KPL cocks Gor out to crow in Dar

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Gor Mahia's Mehdie Kagere celebrates his equaliser against Mathare United on Sunday, July 12. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya
Gor Mahia’s Mehdie Kagere celebrates his equaliser against Mathare United on Sunday, July 12. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

NAIROBI, July 17- Will Gor Mahia make mockery of the Swahili adage, jogoo wa shamba hawiki mjini (the village cock does not crow in the city) when they bid to lift a first Cecafa Kagame Cup title in 30 years starting Saturday?

That is the USD30,000 (Sh 3.075m) question K’Ogalo will attempt to answer when they launch their bid to be the kings of the region when they take on home favourites and fellow Tanzanian champions, Yanga in an explosive opener to the 2015 tournament.

Besides regional pride, the huge payout for the eventual champions is added motivation for a team that had to rely on last minute help to secure air fare to the event as self supporting Kenyan community clubs continue to experience a biting cash crunch.

At home, Gor, the back-to-back Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions have swept all before them, remaining unbeaten since the current top flight campaign started in February, and left for Tanzania with a healthy 12-point margin at the summit of the table.

“We will take every game at a time. Our first priority is to qualify to the next round, I’m very optimistic we will do well since we have done so in the league.

“The challenge in Cecafa will be good for us to measure our strength against top teams,” assistant head coach, John ‘Bobby’ Ogolla, a member of the triumphant 1985 Cecafa Cup Gor side remarked.

“I was a player then and we beat AFC Leopards 2-0 in Sudan. Before we went there, people it’s only the uniform that went to Cecafa but this time, it’s more than that. We expect good results.

“I’m looking forward to win the trophy. It would be a great pleasure for me to win it as a coach,” he added in illustrating his and the club’s deep desire to rule East Africa once more as he recalled with pride the glorious moment when a Dr. William Obwaka double sank the archenemy in an all Kenyan final.

It is barely 12 months since their last outing at the Cecafa club signature tournament ended in disgrace after the club were bundled out at the first hurdle when they lost three and drew one of the preliminary round matches.

Then, Gor were struggling to balance domestic duties and lack of finances with a stretched squad that lacked in honesty, the pedigree in ranks needed to compete with East African giants as Sudan’s El Merreikh, the well heeled outfit, went on to bag the crown.

Since then, Scotsman Bobby Williamson has been succeeded by countryman Frank Nutall at the helm and with a win percentage of 71, he stands heads and above shoulders above any other K’Ogalo tactician.

 -Nutall Command-

Under his command, the Green Army fans celebrated a second KPL title on the bounce after snapping an 18-year drought and look set to clinch the hat-trick with lack of any serious local competition.

That sewn up, the Green Army faithful, a passionate band of supporters who have made the team the best supported in the country, firmly believe this is the year when they can challenge to return to the throne of East Africa like yesteryears.

“In Dar, we expect good results because players are motivated. I know our fans, even if they are not in Dar, will be supporting us. I’m looking forward for a good outing since our performance here (KPL) has boosted our confidence to play well in the region.

“We are hoping to win our first match against Yanga to motivate us to perform well in the remaining matches. This time, we want to go beyond where we reached last year and if possible, win the title,” skipper, Musa Mohammed asserted.

K’Ogalo are the second most decorated team in history of the competition, behind only to Tanzanian titans Simba with a tally of five against six.

Forward Meddie Kagere, Khalid Aucho (Uganda/midfield), Karim Niizigiyimana (Burundi/right back), Geoffrey Walusimbi (Uganda/midfield), Abuoba Sibomana (Burundi/left-back), Dirkir Glay (Liberia/defender) and Simon Pierre (Cameroon/defender) give the KPL titleholders the required continental mix to battle the best in East Africa.

Lanky 21 year-old forward, Michael Olunga and midfielder, Ali Victor Abondo who have been banging in goals for fun in the KPL, keeper Boniface Oluoch, midfielder Collins Okoth (injury doubtful) and captain Mohammed are the local stars who have supplemented the foreign region to make Gor an almost invincible force in Kenya.

Besides Yanga, Gor will play Al Khartoum (Sudan) who are coached by immediate former Ghana Black Stars head coach, Kwesi Appiah, Telkom (Somalia) and KMKM (Zanzibar) in a Group A they have the resources to nail top-two places to automatically advance.

However, as recent results of national team Harambee Stars point out, the KPL is light years behind the continent and much is needed to return Kenya to the days when Gor, Leopards and Tusker FC used to run the rule at the Cecafa tournament.

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