Friday, 11 September 2015

The Green Army Set to Soldier On Against the Soldiers

This Sunday K’ogalo and its faithful followers The Green Army, make the 200 kilometers road trip to the agri-industrial town of Nakuru to face their only title challengers, Ulinzi Stars. By the end of 90 minutes they might be making the return trip having been confirmed the 2015 league champions. Indeed a win or draw will see them confirmed champions while a win for Ulinzi will see them retain a slim mathematical chance of upsetting the defending champions to the finish line. Gor Mahia has a 12 point lead over Ulinzi with a game in hand and so it will take something special, Gor Mahia losing all their remaining matches with Ulinzi winning all of theirs, for anyone to entertain the thought of Gor bottling it. Everyone knows it will take a miracle for that to happen.

With the championship more or less secured, what incentive is there for the Green Army? For K’ogalo the ambition is now to finish the league unbeaten and with Tusker wobbling, Sofapaka weakened and having dispatched off Bandari the last time out in Mombasa, Ulinzi Stars remain the only side perceived as a threat to this unbeaten run. Indeed over the last couple of years, actually since the title run-in in 2010, there has been no love lost between the soldiers and the green army.  For the players and the technical bench, it is an opportunity to etch their names alongside the great Gor Mahia teams of the mid 80s – something that older fans will however have reservations about.  And having already hit the 20 goals margin for Gor Mahia this season (15 in the league and 5 in CECAFA), Michael Olunga will be itching to not only challenge for the golden boot but stake his claim to be among the best strikers the club has seen – again, something that older fans will have reservations about.

Encounters between the two sides have been tense and often physical affairs, with very few goals flying in. There have only been 19 goals in 15 league games between the two sides since 2008, with Gor netting 12 of those. Only Tusker and Sofapaka have prevented K’Ogalo from scoring more in the league (teams that have played more than 10 games) in this period.  You have to go back to 23 August 2009 to witness the last time any of these teams scored more than 2 goals against each in any competition,  a George Odhiambo “Blackberry”  double inspiring Gor to a 4-2 win at Afraha.  Last season Rama Salim and David Owino ensured that Gor won this fixture 2-1 so it is a ground that they are comfortable on, having already scored 4 past Chemelil Sugar FC at the beginning of this second leg. During this time Gor has won 40% of their league matches against Ulinzi (6 games) and lost 4 with 5 others ending in draws. Also no team has done a double over the other in a season in this period, a status Gor will be keen to see changed and one that Ulinzi will want to preserve.

So even as Gor marches to its third league trophy in succession (a feat only managed by Ulinzi in modern times since the indomitable AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia teams of the 80s), there will be all to play for and Afraha will be a battle ground come Sunday.

Meddie Kagere and Michael Olunga destroyed the soldiers in the first leg fixture (photo courtesy of Official Gor Mahia)

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