It can be difficult to advise the Gor Mahia contingent when they are in a crisis mode. Whether it comes to a board decision, or a player not just doing the basic things required of them in such a big club, you will have to exert some power to lead that lot.
With no challenger in the local scene, Gor Mahia heavy loss in the past weekend away in Algeria once again pointed to the frailties in the club’s transfer market. Not only were they exposed by USM Algers but they were reminded once again that to be the best, you must have the best.
The loss has been portrayed, in some quarters, as evidence of the Kenyan Premier League decline this coming after people fell into the trap of mistaking a resilient win over Tusker FC as definitive proof of their might.
From those who watched Mahia make it to the quarterfinals of the CAF Confederations Cup last season, their loss in Algeria can’t be entirely blamed on the decline of the league. It angles at a form of poor recruitment and lack of proper players to take the best in the continent.
And while the fortunes favoured them last season, one area that has remained a constant bother over the contrasting two seasons has been the goalkeeping department. From Boniface Oluoch, Shaban Odhoji, Fredrick Odhiambo and now Robert Mapigano, the place between the sticks has been on the downward trajectory.
From being hailed as the best in Gor’s preliminary round tie against Aigle Noir to looking like a lost Agriculture teacher at the Stade Omar Hamadi, Mapigano is a man currently under the scope but the blame shouldn’t be entirely his.
Of the other keepers at the club disposal, Boniface Oluoch is the only custodian with a proper experience at this stage but he is one player who hasn’t been short of errors when most needed; a fact that forced coach Hassan Oktay to use Patrick Odhiambo in CAF games even when Oluoch was fit.
Many has blamed the club’s defence (a fact that was pointed out by Mapigano when he conceded the third goal in the tie going by his gesture) but the blame solely rested with him; that was an easy goal to concede. Furthermore, the club had a better defence last season and they still conceded silly goals and there has not been so much change in it since then with only Haroun Shakava the only missing player.
The same was witnessed when the club exited the competition in the group stage under Dylan Kerr when Odhoji conceded a silly goal at Kasarani against Rayon Sports.
The truth is Gor Mahia has no proper keeper trainer required to compete with the best in the continent. A sit down with a former keeper trainer student last week gave a glimpse of what is required of the current crop of keeper trainers and the club is nowhere near the demands. Apart from pumping balls to keepers and involving them in keeper drills, the current trainers incorporate keepers in the first-team training.
The first two keepers are allowed the luxury to play as outfield players in training twice a week to boost their awareness and passes with teammates. That apart the young keepers and/or the third and fourth choice keepers are vigorously taken through their paces separately from the first team. This is to make them ready physically should there be a crisis in the department.
Mapigano might pay the price for his shortcomings but the focus should be on the goalkeeper trainer whose results have shown in all his students at the club since he took over. The question is whether Gor Mahia fans can direct their anger and ideas to the right person.