K’Ogalo crowned 2018/19 SportPesa Premier League winners

By , K24 Digital
On Mon, 27 May, 2019 11:17 | 2 mins read
Gor Mahia coach Hassan Oktay savours the moment with the SportPesa Premier League trophy in Machakos on Saturday. Photo/DAVID NDOLO

Winning six league titles in seven years has spurred record Kenyan champions Gor Mahia to pan their targets on continental diadems as local glory has become ordinary.

K’Ogalo were crowned 2018/19 SportPesa Premier League winners on Saturday but unlike previous coronations, celebrations in Machakos were remarkably subdued.

“We knew we would win the title before the league started. That is why the mood is not like it was say in 2013 when the team clinched it after 18 years. And the sad thing is that we will still win it with this squad next season,” said club legend and assistant coach Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno.

Jubilant fans expressed desire for greater challenge with one hoisting a scarf calling for a battle with English champions Manchester City.

While Man City is way too lofty for the 18-time Kenyan champions, head coach Hassan Oktay is mulling a serious stab at the CAF Champions League next season.

“I’m looking at the teams that reached Confederation Cup finals Zamalek and Berkane and I know it is a missed opportunity for Gor Mahia. Zamalek for instance did not lose anywhere in the continental championships except in Nairobi. And we did not just win, we scored four goals against them. Yet their budget is astronomical while we are not that endowed,” said the Turk who took over at K’Ogalo last December.

Continental target

He added: “With a better plan, we can get into the group stages of Champions League because we have qualified and the knockout stage is also achievable. If we drop back to Confederation Cup, then the final is my target.”

Oktay’s ambitions are hinged on the club retaining some of the top performers who are already rumoured to be on their way out of the club.

Want-away stars

Lead striker Jacques Tuyisenge, who has racked up 12 continental goals for Gor, has several clubs circling for his signature with Petro Atletico of Angola, Young Africans of Tanzania and AS Vita of Congo all intent on taking him.

Creative midfielder Francis Kahata is also keen to part ways with the club after three-and-a-half years. His transfer request last December was rejected by the club but having run out his contract, Kahata will walk out on the Bossman Rule with Tanzanian moneybags Simba SC keen on adding him to their impressive collection of African stars.

Club captain Harun Shakava is also in the final six months of his contract with clubs from Zambia angling for his services.

Shakava has won five league titles at K’Ogalo since signing in 2014.

Moves for the skipper and Tuyisenge will earn the club tidy sums in transfer fees, money which they can use to tie down Kahata or find replacements. 

Oktay urged the club not to let the diminutive midfielder leave, saying: “I understand that there are many clubs offering big money for Tuyisenge but it would be really bad to lose Kahata as well. He is harder to replace.”