As expected, Kenyan club Gor Mahia lost 2-1 to Everton in a high profile friendly match played in Tanzania on Thursday. But this is just half of the story. So what else did we learn from this historic match?
1. Class is permanent…
But form is temporary. For long spells in the first half, English striker, who was main attraction in the match, looked lost. Infact, the 31-year-old was reduced to chasing shadows as his team struggled to come to terms with Gor Mahia’s fluid passing game. And then out of the blue, the former Manchester United captain scored a brilliant solo goal from 35 yards out. This wasn’t a fluke either. He’s scored several similar goals in the past. Shows you don’t actually have to play well to win a match.
2. Gor are good enough to compete on the continent
“If Gor Mahia are this good, why don’t we see them playing in the (Caf) Champions League?” a Zambian fan posed on Facebook during the match. Granted, the Gor players gave a good account of themselves, especially in the first half. Special mention to Jacques Tuyisenge, Meddie Kagere, Kenneth Muguna, Musa Mohammed and Harun Shakava. For long periods, these lads matched their opponents toe-to-toe. This was the best ever advert for Kenyan football in a long while. K’Ogalo need to follow up this international exposure and strategise on how to compete with Africa’s finest, just like they have done before.
3. K’Ogalo have been Kenya’s great ambassadors
That to this game, Kenyan football has been broadcast all over the world for the past few weeks. It was an honour for any Kenyan to read about their team and players in top English papers and watch Everton players respond to questions about our local stars. Our hope is, that this is the start of a positive journey towards placing Kenyan football on the international map.
4. Everton’s professionalism
Gor Mahia and Kenyan football administrators should pick valuable lessons from how Everton handled themselves all through. From sending advance teams to Tanzania, to how their players fielded and answered questions, punctuality, charity work, name them, all in a day’s work. The English side showed us that football is much more than kicking a ball. That’s how a football team becomes an international brand.
5. Kudos SportPesa
All this, by the way, would not have been possible without giant gaming firm SportPesa. In a few years, the firm has created several exposure platforms that Kenyan footballers would only dream of in the past. Hopefully, such games will be the first of many.
6. Kenyan sports facilities need sprucing up
Part of why this game was played in Tanzania is because no Kenyan facility is capable of hosting a match of this caliber. As we all saw, the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam is one modern state-of-the-art facility. The onus is on those responsible for infrastructure development.