Gor Mahia are the 2017 Kenyan Premier League champions with four matches to the end of the season.
A high flying K’Ogalo beat former champions Ulinzi Stars 1-0 at Kericho Green Stadium to clinch a record 16th title on Saturday. Rwandan international Medie Kagere gave the new champions the winning goal to hand Dylan Kerr his maiden KPL title in his first season.
Gor Mahia are now assured of representing Kenya in the lucrative Caf Champions League next year. Worryingly, however, Kenyan teams have fared rather dismally at the continental stage, with Sofapaka being the only side that have gone past the second round, in 2010 under coach Ezekiel Akwana.
Despite dominating the local scene, anytime a Kenyan champion steps up to the continental arena, results have always been disappointing, to say the least.
With this in mind, Gor Mahia management should begin to plan how to redeem the image of the only Kenyan team to have won a continental showpiece, when they lifted the African Cup Winners' Cup in 1987.
Here are four steps that Gor Mahia need to follow to conquer Africa
Retain the coach
Englishman Dylan Kerr joined Gor Mahia last July.
Kerr has a good grasp of African football having coached elsewhere in East Africa, and in South Africa with Mpumalanga Black Aces. With the Briton, Gor Mahia have the confidence and the momentum to return to thrive in the continental stage.
Keep the squad intact
Gor Mahia are known to lose some of their best players every new season, and even worse, they leave as free agents.
In 2016, K’Ogalo lost the reigning Kenyan Premier League top scorer Dan Sserunkuma.
The following year, the record Kenyan champions also let go of another Ugandan, Khalid Aucho, on free transfer, and with reports that unsettled midfielder Kenneth Muguna may leave at the end of the season, K’Ogalo's agents need to bring the cheque book to the table and tie down most of their prized assets to long-term contracts.
Beef up the squad
After tying down the core of the playing unit with long-term contracts, Kerr will need to add a few new faces to his squad, as a lack of investment may send the wrong message to the club's existing players.
Adding experienced talents, perhaps those with experience of continental competition, could help Gor make the step up to continental competition.
Gor Mahia have the deadliest attacking forwards in Rwandan Jacques Tuyisenge and his countryman Meddie Kagere, and with George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo and Muguna pushing from the middle, they can pick teams off in various different ways.
K’Ogalo, however, need to beef up their defence and goalkeeping areas to back up Boniface Oluoch and Peter Odhiambo.
Two or three new faces would be ideal for a side so starved of continental glory for close to 30 years.
One of the key undoings of most Kenyan clubs in the continental stage is the country’s league calendar which runs from March to November, and with Caf Champions League competition set for early February, most Kenyan teams find themselves lining up against opponents who are much fitter than they.
This is something that Gor Mahia should take note of by arranging for early preparation.
Kerr should line up a number of high-profile friendly matches with tops team across the continent in order to prepare the KPL heavyweights for the challenges they will face in African competition.