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Gor Mahia: KPL champions remain a cut above the rest as new season starts

9:41 AM GMT 02/09/2019
Kenneth Muguna of Gor Mahia FC.
K’Ogalo have opened the new season with a bang, and the huge victory against Tusker proves they are still the title favourites

We may only be one gameweek into the new Kenyan Premier League season, but 18-time champions Gor Mahia already look like the team to beat after picking up where they left off last season.

A 5-2 drubbing of Tusker FC, who are being touted among the teams to challenge Gor for the title, was a clear warning to their rivals that they mean business.

Already, in the last two matches played – one in the Caf Champions League against Aigle Noir of Burundi and in their season opener against Tusker – Gor Mahia have fired in ten goals.

Against Tusker, K’Ogalo could have easily scored as many as eight goals; the team’s second-half display was awesome, and even Brewers coach Robert Matano admitted they are the team to beat once again this season.

“We must admit [Gor Mahia] have experienced players, and their kind of play will be difficult for many teams to handle this season,” Matano told reporters after the match in Kisumu. “They are already looking unstoppable.”

On his team's collapse, Matano explained: “We gave [Gor Mahia] too much room to play the ball, and also my defenders did not communicate well to keep them at bay.

“We must go back to the drawing board and see where things went wrong and rectify the mistakes as soon as possible before the season gets out of hand.

"If we want to compete for the title, then we must not lose to Gor Mahia the way we did," added Matano. "At least a draw could have been a fair result for us."

Despite losing key players – notably Harun Shakava to Nkana FC of Zambia, Francis Kahata to Simba SC of Tanzania, George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo to Tusker and striker Jacques Tuyisenge to Petro Atletico of Angola – Gor Mahia seem to have found their replacements already.

New captain and midfielder Kenneth Muguna is already leading by example, and against Tusker, he was the chief tormentor, scoring two goals and setting up the other two.

Upfront, Nicholas Kipkirui, signed from Zoo Kericho a season ago, has come of age and already fills the gap left by striker Tuyisenge.

The 23-year-old forward is getting the goals; he scored against Aigle Noir in the Caf assignment, and it was his goal which set Gor Mahia up for their huge win against Tusker.

Goalkeeper David Mapigano has also proved his worth since joining the Kenyan champions from Tanzania, as has countrymen and defender David Ambundo, while Tobias Otieno is now bossing the midfield, at the expense of the experienced Ernest Wendo.

While all this is happening, the club is yet to unleash new signings Gislein Yikpe Gnamian from Ivory Coast or Ghanaian attacker Francis Afriyie. Gor still have untapped resources, and a bench which is the envy of the division.

Gor Mahia CEO Omondi Aduda has admitted they have learnt from the past, when the team could struggle at the middle of the season because of injuries to key players, hence the decision to establish such strength in depth.

“We have struggled before when the league enters the penultimate stage, and we don’t want to see the same happening again,” Aduda told Goal. “It was the reason we opted to beef up our squad with new signings, and in all departments to help the technical bench have a variety of players to pick from.”

Coach Steven Polack says his players are yet to reach the heights he wants, and he will continue to sharpen them over the coming months.

“We are yet to start playing the kind of football which I always advocate for,” Polack told Goal. “It might take time before they hit the level which I want, but so far we are in a learning process.

“Against Tusker, I was not happy with the way we played in the first half, our legs were tied and we never attacked them as I could have loved to.

"However, after the pep talk during the half time break, my boys improved a bit in the second period and I am happy we won,” Polack concluded.

Speaking on behalf of the team, captain Muguna has acknowledged that Gor are hungry for more success, and that they will strive to sweep up all the trophies on offer this season.

“All the players in the squad are yearning for more success,” Muguna told Goal. “We already won the KPL Super Cup, and we want to go for more trophies.

“It is our target to make sure we close the season with all of the trophies on offer, and we will continue to fight for the same and ask our fans to always rally behind [us]. We love the support they give us."

With top challengers Wazito FC, Sofapaka, Tusker, Bandari FC and AFC Leopards all dropping points on matchday one, Gor have already established themselves as the overwhelming favourites to conquer the 18-team league. They may not relinquish top spot from now until the season's end...!