NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 25- Harun who? Everyone asked when a then little known Harun Shakava was linked, and ultimately penned an initial two-year contract with Gor Mahia from Kakamega Homeboyz back in 2014.
Though having played sparingly for Homeboyz under coach Fred Serenge as they were relegated from the Kenyan Premier League, Shakava had done just but enough to attract K’Ogalo’s attention.
The 25-year old, four years later has now risen to be the captain of the record 16-time league champions, taking over from Musa Mohammed who has since joined Albanian side KF Tirana.
“It is a big challenge because Gor Mahia is a big club and as a leader, you have to be on the right way so as to make a good example for the others. As much as it is an enormous challenge, it is a motivation for me that the club and coach have seen something positive in me,” Shakava told Capital Sport.
Gor head coach Dylan Kerr has disclosed that with merely six months at the club, he had already fallen in love with Shakava and for him, the soft-spoken defender was a natural pick to succeed Mohammed.
“I like central defenders as captains and I really like Shakava. He is a tall, young centre half, with a good career ahead of him and I really like his potential,” Kerr said.
The tactician further says the opportunity will give Shakava who he describes as shy and quiet to burst out of his potential and show what he is really made of to open up doors for the opportunity to sign for a bigger club.
“He needs to come out of his shell abit. I am hoping this will give him the opportunity… that’s the big thing for him, he has responsibility for team, technical bench and a bigger one for the fans. He has a big strong character; he has a chance to play out of Kenya. As captain this will set him in a very good standard to go to Europe,” the coach further states.
Shakava picks up from Mohammed, a player he has partnered with at the centre of the Gor defense for the last two seasons consistently, their highlight being winning the league title unbeaten in 2015.
The defender admits it will be a big blow to be without the centreback, but reckons he will have to get used to a new partner quick enough as he looks to help Gor scale more heights than his predecessor.
“Our combination was great. We played together for long in comparison to other clubs which change their centre backs often and brought in very many trophies,” Shakava says.
“We were used to each other because apart from being partners in defence, we were friends, roommates and to find a new person with whom you have to start from the bottom is a challenge. We haven’t had a lot of time to gel together but I am hopeful we will click in as soon as possible,” the defender further stated.
His first assignment with the band around his left arm will be the KPL Super Cup against arch-rivals AFC Leopards on Sunday in Nakuru and he hopes this will provide a positive start as he plans to lift his first piece of silverware as skipper.
“It is a very big match because it is against our arch rivals and of course being my first match as captain it is a benchmarking venture for me. I am confident with the quality of players we have, we will start off the season with a trophy,” he added.
Top on his agenda ahead of the New Year is to guide the club to the group stages of the CAF Champions League, something that no Gor Mahia captain has done since the 1987 Mandela Cup winning squad.
The new skipper is also confident the team will defend their KPL title as well as sweep the entire local scene with the KPL Top 8 and the FKF Cup also on the plate for contention.