Africa’s Greatest Football Clubs: Gor Mahia Football Club
Gor Mahia Football Club is one of two most successful teams in Kenyan Football, the other being AFC Leopards. Also known as K’Ogalo (meaning Luo for House of Ogalo), they have gone on to lift the League title 15 times, two more than their arch rivals AFC Leopards. They are the only team to in Kenya to lift the African Continental title in 1987. With a history spanning some 49 years, Gor Mahia has produced some of the finest players in their rank – including the legendary Allan Thigo.
Gor Mahia Football Club was formally established February 17, 1968 after the amalgamation of Lou Union and Lou Sports Clubs. However, the history of the club goes way back in the 1950s to Lou Sports Club. The name of the club comes from the Legendary medicineman from Kanamwa, Ndihwa, Home Bay in Lou mythology, whose nickname was Gor Mahia meaning Lou for “Magic” because of the famous for performing magic. The original Luo Union FC was formed in the 1950s and was the brainchild of freedom fighter Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.
THE CLUB’S INFORMATION
Gor Mahia currently play their home games at the Nairobi City Stadium. Prior to that, they alternatively played their home games at the Moi International Sports Centre and the Nyayo National Stadium. Gor Mahia FC is one of Kenya and East Africa's most supported football club and is Kenya's most successful club having won the national league 15 times.
1970s Prior to the 70s during their first season in the League, Gor Mahia defied the odds by clinching the League title with their first attempt in the 1968 season. A few seasons later, K’Ogalo became the first Keanyan team to win the League unbeaten the entire season with the likes of playmaker Allan Thigo, who also acted as coach. The latter was assisted by stars – this included Festus Nyakota, James Ogola with new recruits Jerry Imbo and legendary goalpoacher Maurice Ochieng. Goalkeeper George Ayuka had an impressive season. Ochieng finished as the leading goalscorer with 20 goals ahead of legendary William “Chege” Ouma who scored 16 goals. It was said that the K’Ogalo’s squad was the strongest for the club ever fielded. The 1979 season saw Gor Mahia qualified to participate in the African Cup Winners’ Cup. They eventually went all the way to the final to face Canon Yaounde of Cameroon who were the defending Champions. Gor Mahia lost the first leg at home by 0 – 2. The lack of inexperienced from the team took a toll as they were thrashed in the second leg by 6 – 0. After the game, rumours circulated that some of the Gor Mahia players were bribed.
Gor Mahia beat arch rivals AFC Leopards 1 – 0 to win the League in 1983. That very same year, they won the inaugural Moi Golden Cup beating Bandari also 1 – 0 in the final. A goal from Hezbom Omollo in injury time secured the victory for K’Ogalo. They participated in the Africa Cup Winners’ Cup after clinching the Moi Golden Cup. K’Ogalo retained the Moi Golden Cup for the 3
rd successive year after beating Kenya Breweries 2 – 0 in the final in 1989. The team eventually lost the League title to rivals and resurgent AFC Leopards. Gor Mahia were back in the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1989. They received a walk over and qualified for the second round after Ugandan side Villa pulled out in the first round. The following round saw K’Ogalo beating Mozambique side Costa Do Sol 2 – 1 at home and tied in the second leg in a stalemate to qualify for the third round. In the quarter finals they faced Liberian side LPRC Oilers. It ended in a stalemate as the visitors celebrated the victory as if they won a final. In the second leg, team manager told the media that his side will conquer the return leg. Indeed, that was the case as they won 3 – 1 in Monrovia. In the semi–final, they faced El Merreikh of Sudan – winning the first leg 1 – 0, but lost the return leg 2 – 0 in Omdurman eventually bowing out of the Competition.
1990s – Inconsistent decade
Tough times came upon for Gor Mahia. In the 1996 season, they had the most disastrous year in the club’s history. They were eliminated in the 1
st round of the Africa Champions League by Zimbabwean outifit Dynamos. That lead to the worst riots ever seen in Nairobi. K’Ogalo finished in 8th place which was unprecedented in the club’s history. The following season, they somewhat recovered to almost going to win the National League – losing by goal difference to winners, Utalii. The club failed to hold on to their players – whom left for greener pastures to the middle east. The last two years of the 20th century was characterised by inconsistent performances due to the lack of finances. They were broke, failed to hire a coach and this saw the team to sell their quality players.
2000 – currently
In 2011, Gor Mahia secured their first legitimate shirt sponsorship deal. In previous year since 1991, they wore the emblazoned international casino. They eventually finished fourth in that season in the league and also, went on to win the FKL Cup. In the 2012 season, they started on high by winning seven of the nine matches and drawing the two. They went on a signing spree looking for players in preparation for the 2012 CAF Confederations Cup bringing in more than 10 players. The plan didn’t go according to plan when they lost to debutants Muhoroni Youth 3 – 0 away and at home by 1 – 0 to Ferroviario de Maputo of Mozambique in the first leg. The run of poor performances continued when the lost in Super Cup to tusker and another League loss to Karuturi Sports. This led to the entire technical team being axed from their duties. In the 2013 season, Gor Mahia clinched their first league title in 18 years under manager Bobby Williamson. On the way to a record 13th title, fans of the club popularised the phrase "
Giniwasekao" around the country, which is Luo for "we have taken this thing". Gor Mahia players further added to the club's mystique by finishing their Sportspesa Premier League fixtures for 2015 season unbeaten.
FAMOUS PLAYERS THAT THEY’VE PRODUCED
Abbas Khamis Magongo
There is no player in history that had a massive impact and its fans like Abbass Khamis Magongo had on Gor Mahia and its fans in the years from 1984 and 1991. Known as “Zamalek” the latter is regarded as K’Ogalo fans’ best all-time player of the club. He was the best midfielder ever to play for Kenya National Side and Gor Mahia.
Born in Kenya, Thigo began playing club football for local side Kisumu Hot Stars at age 18. He spent most of his playing career with Gor Mahia helping the club reach the final of the 1979 Africans Winners’ Cup. Thigo made several appearances for the senior KFA including two FIFA World Cup qualifying matches, and he played at the 1972 African Cup of Nations finals.
Other Notable Players
Peter Dawo, Jack Johnson, Sammy “Jogoo” Onyango, John “Zangi” Okello, Len Julians, John Bobby Ogolla, Wiliam Obwaka, T im Ayieko, and Abbey Nassur
ACHIEVEMENTS BY THE CLUB
CAF Cup Winners’ Cup: 1
CECAFA Clubs Cup: 3
1980, 1981, 1985
Kenyan Premier League: 15
1968, 1974, 1976, 1979, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1995, 2013, 2014, 2015
Kenya Challenge Cup/ Moi Golden Cup/ Transparency Cup/ President’s Cup/ KFF Cup/ FKL Cup: 10
1976, 1981, 1983, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1992, 2008, 2011,2012
Kenyan Super League 3
CAF Confederation Cups: 3 appearances
2009 – Preliminary Round
African Cup of Champions Clubs: 8 appearances
1969: Quarter-Finals 1977: Second Round 1980: Second Round
| 1984: abandoned in Second Round 1991: First Round 1992: Quarter-Finals
| 1994: First Round 1996: First Round
CAF Cup: 2 appearances
1993 – Quarter-Finals
1998 – First Round
CAF Cup Winners’ Cup: 7 appearances
1979 – Finalist 1981 – Quarter-Finals 1982 – withdrew in First Round | 1983 – Preliminary Round 1987 – Champion 1988 – Quarter-Finals | 1989 – Semi-Finals