Gor Mahia vs Yanga: Historical Review
By K'Ogalo Pundit
Gor Mahia plays Tanzania’s Yanga on Wednesaday 18th July for only the second time ever meeting in continental competitions. The first time they met in Africa was during the first round of the CAF Champions Cup (the equivalent of today’s Champions League) in 1984 and the then teenage sensation John Okello ‘Zangi’ ensured that K’Ogalo had the crucial away goal with his 67th minute goal before Yanga’s late equalizer tied the match at 1-1.
The club’s record all-time scorer Sammy Onyango Jogoo’s goal in the second leg in Kenya in a 1-0 win meant the tie was settled without the need of an away goal and Gor proceeded to the next round. The team assembled by Len Julians was considered as one of the most formidable teams in the competition at the time and were they to get past Egypt’s Zamalek, they’d have been favourites to lift the trophy. What happened in the next match versus Zamalek in Cairo is history, but the core of this team would go on to win the Mandela Cup in 1987 after completing their 2-year ban thus proving their credentials.
Perhaps the current team cannot be compared to their 80s counterpart in terms of their reputation on the continent but one thing that is certain is that they are the best team the club has assembled in recent times. Probably the best team a Kenyan club has assembled in recent times. The club therefore goes into this match with a lot of hope and expectation from its fans. Their 8 games in Africa this year has brought the club a century of appearances, the 100th continental game coming against USM Alger in their last game. The only year the team played more games in the continent was in 1987 (10 games) when they went all the way and laid their hands on the ultimate prize, albeit using a different format then, and with 3 more games guaranteed it is a record they are going to break it. The club has scored 103 goals since William Ouma ‘Chege’ netted their first continental goal in 1969 against Sudan’s Burri FC but have in the process conceded 108 goals.
Gor Mahia however never do things the easy way. In 1982, player revolt led the team to forfeit the return leg of their African Cup Winners fixture against Madagascar’s Dinamo Fima after losing their first leg match 2-3 in Kenya. This debacle led to mass sackings of the club’s veteran players. The following year, goals by veteran John Chore and fan favourite Abdalla Shebe had stunned Burundi’s Vital'O in Bujumbura in a 2-1 first leg preliminary round win in the African Cup Winners Cup but the team inexplicably lost the return leg 0-3 in Nairobi and were eliminated. Player dissatisfaction and indiscipline has once again reared its head in recent times, culminating in a medal ceremony boycott and leading to a 2-year suspension by CECAFA.
Though order and normal service has seemingly resumed, this time however the Green Army will maybe find comfort in the fact that the Yanga team has itself not experienced the best of preparations with some their star players refusing to travel due to contract reasons. This match is therefore quite interestingly posed but the onus is on the current Gor Mahia’s squad to create their own history. They have become the first Kenyan club to qualify for group stages since CAF club competitions were revamped and group stages introduced. Will they be the first to come out of the groups?
Facts on Gor Mahia’s Continental adventures
- First continental match was in September 1969 against Sudan’s Burri FC, away in Sudan. K’Ogalo would emerge victorious with a 4-2 away win with goals by William Ouma ‘Chege’ (2), ex-Kisii Senator Chris Obure and Dennis Obure.
- Peter Dawo has scored the most goals for a Kenyan team in club continental competitions (14). Wilberforce Mulamba (12) is the only other player to have score more than 10 goals for a Kenyan club in continental competitions.
- Gor Mahia will be playing their 101th game in continental competitions when they tackle Yanga at Kasarani.
- Gor Mahia’s top scorers in continental competitions are Peter Dawo (14), Andrew Obunga ‘Singh’ (7), Allan Thigo (6), and Sammy Onyango ‘Jogoo’ and Austin Oduor (4)
- Gor Mahia has played in 2 finals, winning one and losing one, been to the semi-finals 3 times and the quarter-finals 8 times in Africa
- They have played in 29 different countries in their African sojourn over the years