Gor Mahia in the Late 1980’s

Having qualified for the Cup winners cup, Gor Mahia embarked on a
recruitment drive to prepare for the 1987 season. In came Peter
Dawo who quickly impressed fans with his energy, effort and ability to
score. Back came fan favorite Charles Otieno aka ‘Engine’ who had
left fans heart broken when he left for Kenya Breweries in 1984. Fans
were elated and almost in disbilef and giddy at the prospect of seeing
‘Engine’ and ‘Zamalek’ playing in the same midfield. Also signed that
year to sharpen the strike force was Anthony Odhiambo Ndolo, who
joined from Kisumu All stars. Tobias Ocholla joined and imemdiately
solidified the defence plugging the hole left by Swaleh Ochieng
Oswayo who coincidentally had a slight resemblance to Ocholla, who
was to later to earn the nickname ‘Jua Kali’ due to his tight marking.
Anthony Ndolo was nicknamed “Suzuki” because of his speed.
1987 is considered the clubs most successful year. That year they
won a unique treble : The national League , The Moi golden cup and
the Africa cup winners cup which had just been named the Nelson
Mandela cup. In addition the club provided 8 players to the national
team which made the final of the 4th All Africa games football
tournament, Kenya’s most successful cup campaign yet.

This Image courtesy of Aaron Agola @ phasebook Gor Mahia pictured in early 1987 Frontrow : David Ochieng, Tom Gundo, Jaffar Mwidau, ??, Otieno Solo, Anthony Ndolo “Suzuki’ , Peter Ochieng “Pierre”, Ben Oloo “breakdance” Sammy Onyango Gor Mahia intheLate1980s “Jogoo”, Ahmed Shero Backrow: Otieno “Bassanga”, Austin Oduor “Makamu” , Peter Dawo, George Odembo Nyangi, Isaiah Omondi “Janabi”, ??, Charles Otieno, ??, ??, Abbas Magongo, Tobias Ocholla, George Onyango “Fundi” , Maurice Ochieng “Sony

In the Cup winners cup, Kogalo started the campaign against
Marine of Somalia, also known as ‘Baddy’. Gor Mahia won the
1st leg 3-0 in Nairobi and the second leg 2-0 in Mogadishu
with Peter Dawo scoring 4 out of 5 goals. George Onyango
Fundi scored the other.
In the second round they played El Merreikh of Sudan. The first
leg in Omdurman ended 1-1 with a goal from Peter Dawo. The
second leg was played in Kisumu’s Moi stadium with Kogalo
showing appreciation to their lakeside based fans who are the
most fanatic and offer the club unequivocal support. The game
ended in a 0-0 draw. Gor Mahia utterly outplayed Merreikh and
launched raid after raid on their goal. But Sudanese keeper
Hamid Breima frustrated Gor Mahia forwards with a series of
incredible saves. At the time he could have been considered
one of Africa’s best keepers. Gor Mahia thus advanced on
away goals rule. After the match Gor Mahia fans in Kisumu
carried Hamid Breima shoulder high in a show of appreciation.
Never had they seen such spectacular goalkeeping.
In the quarter finals, Gor Mahia faced Entente Deux of Togo.
The big talking Togolese arrived in Nairobi promising to “Cut
10/17/13 Gor Mahia intheLate1980s
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The big talking Togolese arrived in Nairobi promising to “Cut
Gor Mahia down to size”. Those were their exact words. But it
was Gor Mahia who ripped them to shreds. Sammy Onyango
‘Jogoo’ was in fine form scoring the first two goals, giving
Kogalo a 2-0 half time lead. Captain Austin Oduor ‘Makamu
scored the 3rd goal with a rising shot. Peter Dawo headed
home Sammy Onyango’s cross for the 4th goal. Togolese
striker Agunyo Kwami scored the consolation goal and the
match ended 4-1 in favor of Gor Mahia. Elated Gor Mahia fans
stormed the streets of Nairobi and sung songs all the way to
Nation house. In the second leg in Lome, Togo, Gor Mahia
kept their nerve and held the Togolese to a 0-0 draw thus
advancing to the semis.

Charles Otieno’s return to the team in 1987 futher strengthened and already strong midfield. He is pictured here goung against El Merreikh of Sudan in the 2nd round match at Moi Stadium Kisumu

In the semis they faced Dragons L’Oueme of Benin. The first leg ended 0-0 in Cotonou. As Gor Mahia fans listened intently

to the proceedings on the radio, Anthony Ndolo scored a goal leading to mass celebrations only for the goal to be disallowed

seconds later. The second leg was played to a packed Nyayo stadium. In goal for the Beninois was Nigerian legendary
keeper Peter Rufai who represented Nigeria at several cup of nations and at the 1994 World cup. In attendance was the then
popular President Moi and his cabinet, George Onyango ‘Fundi’ gave Gor Mahia something to celebrate when he scored the
opener after only 4 minutes with a brilliant grass cutter from 20 yards that left Rufai flat footed. But only minutes later, a
Bassanga back pass was intercepted and the Beninois capitalized to equalize. Half time score was 1-1. Peter Dawo scored
the second goal from a corner kick and Kogalo fans were dancing and singing in the terraces yet again. But with 15 minutes
left, the Beninois equalized. Gor Mahia were now staring elimination on away goals rule. As the minutes ticked away, Gor
Mahia launched raid after fruitless raid on the Dragons goal. Finally with 2 minutes left, Gor Mahia were awarded a throw in
near the Dragons goal. Long throw specialist Tobias Ocholla took the throw. Up rose Peter Dawo with a back header that
beat the hapless Peter Rufai in goal. Nyayo stadium turned into a near delirium as fans celebrated. So Gor Mahia were now
in the final of the Africa cup. Eager they were to make amends for the disaster of 1979 when they reached the final only to
be white washed by Canon Yaounde. The only players still present from that team was hard working full back George Otieno
‘Solo’ , Isaiah Omondi ‘Janabi’ and winger Sammy Onyango who was 17 year old school boy in the 1979 team. Kenyans of
all walks of life joined together to wish Gor Mahia the best, whether or not they were Gor Mahia fans. In fact whether or not
they were football fans, they were excited at the prospect of a Kenyan team Gor Mahia becoming the first team from East
and Central Africa to lift a continental championship.

They faced Esperance of Tunisia , a professional outfit at a time when all Gor
Mahia players were part timers. The first leg was played in Tunis. Abass
Magongo scored the first goal. Esperance equalized then went ahead 2-1.
Midway through the second half. Peter Dawo scored with a brilliant long range
effort. The game ended 2-2. The return leg was played at Kasarani to a capacity
crowd. Esperance appalled fans by engaging in dirty tactics which included eye
gouging, some of which was caught on camera. In the first half they focused on
dangerman Peter Dawo, several times elbowing, gouging and stomping him. Still
they could not stop him as he scored the match opener from a corner kick taken
by Abass Magongo. Esperance equalized late in the second half but Gor Mahia
won on away goals rule. There were wild celebrations after the match as several
Gor Mahia fans stormed into the pitch to join the team in a lap of honour.
In the 1987 league, Gor Mahia were also in sensational form. On October 20, they
faced arch rivals AFC Leopards who gave a really good account of themselves. It
was a tough match that was decided late in the second half when Peter Dawo
converted a left wing cross from substitute Ben Oloo “breakdance”.
Gor Mahia also won the Moi golden cup by beating AFC Leopards 2-0 in the final,
thus completing a unique treble.

Peter Dawo in action against AFC Leopards keeper Kennedy Maitsi and defender George Sunguti

In 1988 Gor Mahia looked to continue with the success of the previous year. They recruited new players like giant stopper

Paul Ochieng ‘Kunde’, Ignatious Khaduli, Mike Otieno and Hezron Osuka. In addition, goalkeeper Tirus Omondi and
midfielder John Okello ‘Zangi’ returned from suspensions. However Gor Mahia’s recruitment drive could not match that of arch
rivals AFC Leopards who were desperate to match Gor Mahia’s feat of winning the Africa cup. With the financial muscle of
Alfred Sambu, Leopards raided Volcano United and Re-Union and poached national team players like Hassan Juma and
Davis Oyiela. Gor Mahia passed up the opportunity to play in the CECAFA cup due to fatigue. Their place was taken by
Kenya Breweries who had finished 3rd in the league. Brewries ended up winning the CECAFA cup that year thus underlining
the strength of Kenyan clubs in the region.
Impressive amongst the Gor Mahia new signings was stopper Paul Ochieng. Since the retirement of the legendary John
“Bobby” Ogolla in mid 1987, Gor Mahia had lucked a true rock solid stopper. Even as they won the Africa cup in 1987, the
role was played by Peter Otieno Bassanga was really a full back. Ochieng was tall, strong and built like a tank. He was
unbeatable both in the air and on the ground. Mike Otieno was only 18 when he joined the club straight out of Musingu high
school. The stocky left footed winger was explosive and had an incredible acceleration which he used to whizz past
defenders. A product of Musingu Secondary, He was also an excellent crosser of the ball with either foot. Mike’s talent
however was never fulfilled due to his lack of focus and his “party animal” nature which led him to miss practice often.

Gor Mahia FC celebrate the 1st goal against Mukura
Victory of Rwanda in the 1988 Cup winners cup: From
left Fundi, Makamu, Dawo and Zangi (raising arms)

In 1988 Gor Mahia lost the league title to a resurgent AFC Leopards. They however retained the Moi golden cup by beating
Kenya Breweries in the final.
In April of 1988, Gor Mahia provided an incredible 10 players to
the national team that played in the 1988 Africa Nations cup.
The 10 were goalkeeper David Ochieng, defenders Tobias
Ocholla and Austin Oduor, midfielders Charles Otieno, John
Okello ‘Zangi’, George Onyango ‘Fundi’, George Odembo
‘Artillery’ and strikers Peter Dawo, Sammy Onyango and
Anthony Ndolo. Midfielder Abass Magongo was also in the
national team but was dropped after he was accused by coach
Chris Makokha and team manager Joe Kadenge of causing
disharmony amongst players. So out went a player considered
by most to be Kenya’s best, much to the chagrin of Kenyan fans.10/17/13 Gor Mahia intheLate1980s
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So Gor Mahia set out to defend the Africa cup title they had won
the previous season. In round 1 they beat Mukura Victory 1-0 at
home and 1-0 away. In the second round they faced BTM of
Madagascar. The local papers were replete with stories about
how Gor Mahia full backs would have difficulty dealing with the
fleet footed Madagascan wingers who supposedly could run the
100m in less than 10 seconds. Indeed Tobias Ocholla, a good
a marker as he was might have had difficulty with that speed.
So in stepped Isaiah Omondi ‘Janabi’ at right full back. He did
an excellent job of staying toe to toe with the Madagascan
defenders. Sammy Onyango scored the 1st goal. However the
Madagascans equalized when yet another back pass from
Bassanga went astray. George Odembo Nyangi scored the
second goal with one of his trade mark missiles from long
range. So Kogalo took a slim 2-1 lead to Madagascar made
worse by the away goal they had conceded. Gor Mahia played
a cautious game in the return leg in Madagascar. As the much
seemed destined for a goalless draw, George Odembo Nyangi
scored the lone goal in the last 5 minutes to give Gor Mahia a 1-
0 victory. Madagascans from that era probably wont ever forget
Nyangi. Not only did he score twice against BTM, but hios
cracker of a freekick had sunk the Madagascan national team a
year earlier.

In the quarter final, Gor Mahia faced Inter Club of Congo-Brazza. They embarked on residential training in Nyahururu. Large
crowds of locals showed up at each training session to watch Kogalo practising. Bad news reached the club when it was
announced that inspirational midfielder Charles Otieno could not join camp due to job commitments. To make matters
worse, playmaker Abass Magongo left camp to attend the funeral of his mother who had just passed on. Only a month
earlier, John Okello “Zangi” had been expelled from the club by new chairman Douglas Oyieng Odolla much to the chagrin of
fans who liked Zangi. Odolla’s reasons for expelling Zangi were flimsy but such is the nature of Kenyan club officials. So in
short order Gor Mahia had lost 3 key midfielders. In the 1st leg, Gor Mahia won 2-1. Hezron Osuka scored the 1st goal. Inter
Club equalized midway through the second half. As the match waned, substitue Mike Otieno made one of his trademark
explosive runs down the left flank and crossed to Peter Dawo who headed home for the second goal. In the second leg , Gor
Mahia visited Brazzaville and were shabbily treated by their hosts even to the point of being denied training facilities. An
appeal to CAF was not listened to. Gor Mahia lost the second leg 4-1 having been demoralized by their hosts. However as
we know then like now CAF often applies selective justice. Arch rivals AFC Leopards suffered at the hands of blatantly
biased officiating when they faced Diamant of Cameroun at the same stage

In the local league, Gor Mahia finished second to AFC Leopards for the second season in a row. 1989 saw the beginning of
the decline of the club. Despite making it to the semi-finals of the Cup winners cup it was apparent that the standards of the
once mighty club were falling. They lost the Moi golden cup and once again finished second to AFC leopards in the national
league. Coach Jack Johnson left in a huff and the club began to experience financial difficulties. On the continental scene
the club was left behind by several African teams which were gradually transforming into fully professional unit

In 1989 Kogalo retained the Moi golden cup for the 3rd succesive year by beating
Kenya Breweries 2-0 in the final. After the match, Abass Magongo who was man of
the match was carried shoulder high by fans.
Gor Mahia however lost the league title to a resurgent AFC Leopards who benefited
from their recruiting spree and sponsorship from Crown Paints.
Having won the Moi Golden cup the previous year, Gor Mahia were back in the cup
winners cup in 1989. In the 1st round they received a walk over when Villa of
Uganda pulled out. In round 2 they beat Costa Do Sol of Mozambique 2-1 at home
and tied them 0-0 away. In the quarter finals they faced LPRC Oilers of Liberia. The
1st leg was played at Nyayo stadium. Gor Mahia played a disjointed game and the
game ended 0-0. By this time , Danish Coach Jack Johnson had left the club due to
non-payment of his salary. After the match, Liberian players celebrated as if they
had won a cup final. Gor Mahia team manager told the media that Kogalo would
conquer the return leg. Indeed they did, winning 3-1 in Monrovia. Coach Mohammed
Kheri had been drafted from Bandari on a temporary basis to replace Johnson. In
the semis they faced El Merreikh of Sudan. After winning the 1st leg 1-0, they lost 0-
2 in the return leg in Omdurman. So Gor Mahia bowed out in the semi final

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