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Five things that propelled K’Ogalo to glory

Gor Mahia’s third successive league title is the talk of town, justifiably. And while the fans have every reason to smile and celebrate, they will perhaps no better that it would have been a different story if not for these five defining moments.

1. Signing Micheal Olunga, Meddie Kagere and Khalid Aucho: In Dan Sserunkuma, Geoffrey “Baba” Kizito and David “Calabar”Owino, Gor lost three dependable players in December.

This development significantly lowered the expectations and morale within the club’s faithful. Tellingly, the club hired about 17 players at the start of this season. Of this lot, Olunga, Kagere and Aucho have since proved the real deal from their contributions and especially goals.

It would have been a different story had Olunga passed his trials at Mamelodi Sundowns in January and Aucho joined Sofapaka (the two parties had a gentleman’s agreement). Kagere had to stay at a hotel in Nairobi West for more than a week as the club officials mulled on whether to sign him or Burkina Fasso national Traore Koh.

2. Retaining Nuttall: When coach Frank Nuttall delayed his return from Scotland at the start of this season rumours flew around that he had disagreed with the club on some aspects, including new signings and personal terms.

The coach eventually returned, and has since steered the team to a near perfect campaign. Considering this, many Gor fans will not dare think of what might have been if the man, who arrived in the country as a vitual unknown some 15 months back, had stayed away.

3. Handouts: The expiry of the sponsorship arrangement with Brookside Dairy – under the Tuzo brand –  last year presented the club with a fresh challenge of remaining afloat. A similar challenge confronted AFC Leopards this season and the club has literally ground to a halt.

Interestingly however, Gor Mahia have survived, thanks to handouts from the President, his deputy, county governments, politicians and other well wishers. Without the support, it would have been difficult for the club to perform.

4. Fragile opposition: This Gor Mahia team literally walked towards the league title. Thanks in a large part to the frailities at Ulinzi Stars, AFC Leopards, Tusker and Sofapaka – clubs that were expected to challenge Frank Nuttall’s team.

Interestingly, only Mathare United came close to ending Gor Mahia’s unbeaten run in the league. The slum boys took the lead in that second leg clash at Nyayo Stadium and held onto it for long spells before surrendering it in the final moments. Save for that, Gor have barely looked troubled in their matches.

5. Lady luck: The lucky charm smiled on Gor Mahia on almost all occasions this term. As explained, the financial challenges, form issues and personal problems facing its rivals meant that Gor had a head start from the word go.

Then, a couple of officiating decisions (whether deserved or not), notably the penalty against AFC Leopards, came at appropriate times. Unlike in recent seasons, the Kenyan Premier League has also been fair to Gor in most of the boardroom decisions that required the docking of points. Simply put, everything fell into place when it mattered most.