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No end to juju talk at Cecafa tourney

Nobody has been bold enough to admit it, but the subject of witchcraft has refused to die down in this year’s edition of the Cecafa Club Championship.

Home team Yanga and local Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia are the two clubs that are being suspected of using voodoo to aid their campaign in the competition, although officials from both teams have vehemently denied the accusations.

Yanga are the most feared of them all. In the group stages, all their opponents – including Gor Mahia – declined to use the designated changing rooms for fear that the rooms may have been laced with potent charms that could work against them during the match.

One peculiar incident that occurred during the opening match of the tournament involving Gor Mahia and Yanga has been the subject of discussion ever since.

During that match, K’Ogalo bypassed the main entrance reserved for playing teams, and instead opted for an alternative entrance reserved for the stadium staff.

But because that particular entrance was locked at that time, the team broke the door and made their way inside, something that caused the tournament’s Local Organizing Committee to write to Cecafa boss Nicholas Musonye asking him to take action against the Kenyan team.

SAFETY PRECAUTIONS

A member of the K’Ogalo delegation who did not wish to be named told the Daily Nation Sport that contrary to reports that this was an act to spite the stadium management, they were only taking basic safety precautions to guard themselves from the “strong juju” laid by their opponents for the day.

“We have our people here and they had warned that our opponents had something sinister up their sleeves. Our informants told us to avoid the changing rooms and any enclosure where the entire team members could be found together. That is why we avoided the main entrance and the locker rooms,” he said.

But Yanga goalkeeping trainer Juma Pondamali said although witchcraft has been part of football since time immemorial, the team does not use charms on a collective level.

“When I was a player I would always consult a witch doctor, and I retired as the top goalkeeper in the country. For that I have no regrets. But that was very long ago. Things have since changed and nowadays people believe in the scientific ways of enhancing performance,” Pondamali said.

“If there is any witchcraft being practiced in Yanga, then it is being done by individual players who are chasing individual brilliance but not by the entire team,” he added.

Asked to weigh in on reports that K’Ogalo is being powered by witchcraft in this campaign, Pondamali said although he had suspected them for long, their actions during this tournament strongly suggest that they subscribe to witch craft.

“I cannot authoritatively confirm that they (Gor Mahia) practice witchcraft because I have not seen their charms. Some of their actions during this tournament are however very strange. What they did when we played them in the opening match suggest that they strongly believe in witchcraft,” he said.