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Gor Mahia, is it gone that bad? Francis Kahata sleeping on airport floor

THIS is Francis Kahata. Sleeping on the floor of an airport. This is the most shameful act and face of incompetence from Gor Mahia under Ambrose Rachier leadership.

Shocking. Was this coming?  Due to lack of money, later provided by Kenya Government’s Ministry of Sports, the team had delayed departure from Nairobi for a return CAF Confed Cup match in Morocco on Sunday. Apparently they hit headwinds.

The team left  Nairobi on Friday in two batches, one group flying Qatar Airways to Doha, connect Casablanca and then travel to Berkane. The other flew Air Maroc via Congo Brazzaville. But before then, things looked bleak beyond imagination. Read the Kenyan ‘Daily Nation’ newspaper report after Gor Mahia’s 2-0 defeat in Nairobi a fortnight ago, by Moroccan club RS Berkane:

NAIROBI, April 9 – YOU reap what you sow. This age-old proverb aptly describes the conclusion of the Confederation Cup quarter-final match between Kenya champions Gor Mahia and RS Berkane of Morocco on Sunday at Moi international Sports Centre in Nairobi.

Boasting an eight-match unbeaten run in this competition Gor were expected to cruise through this fixture. Instead, a disjointed performance from the Kenyan representatives saw them succumb to an expensive 0-2 loss to the Moroccan side.

Another Gor Mahia player sprawled on airport terminal floor

Another Gor Mahia player sprawled on airport terminal floor

With Berkane carrying home an away goal, even the most diehard of Gor Mahia fans know it will be next to impossible to score three clear goals in North Africa that would hand the staggering Kenyan champs passage to the semi-finals.

FURORE

As expected, the result was greeted by furore from the club’s vocal supporters, but what many did not know is that the Gor players played under distress.

As thousands spectators made their way to the Moi International Sports Center in Kasarani, very few of them knew that the Gor players had threatened to boycott the match. In fact, that dire action was only averted hours to the 4pm kick-off.

“We had a brilliant training session on Friday. For the first time in a long time the players were quite fired up. I left that session knowing that we would beat them (Berkane) 4-0,” said Gor coach Hassan Oktay.

'I got to the pitch and realised that there were no players to train. There was a strike,' said coach Hassan Oktay

‘I got to the pitch and realised that there were no players to train. There was a strike,’ said coach Hassan Oktay

In an exclusive interview with Nation Sport Oktay poured his heart out: “On the day of the training I was sick and shivering because I had stood in the rain in Kericho and later travelled to the sweltering heat in Kisumu, but I was up by 6am so that I could make the final training session at Camp Toyoyo. I wasn’t feeling well but the last session is very important because that is where a coach gets to give his players the magic touch.

NO PLAYERS

“I got to the pitch and realised that there were no players to train. There was a strike. I was so disheartened when my assistants told me that the players would not be coming. And indeed none of them showed up. And they didn’t come for night time camp either, meaning that we couldn’t monitor their sleeping schedule or their night activities.

 

Gor Mahia chairman Ambrose Rachier (left) ... management trouble written all over face of the club

Gor Mahia chairman Ambrose Rachier (left) … management trouble written all over face of the club

“On the day of the game I was relieved to see them. But the moment we started warming up, I knew we were in trouble. The players were just not in the game. Mentally, they were unprepared. For some reason you could see that they had just come to get the game out of the way. We lost that match on Saturday in Toyoyo.”

Indeed, a lot had happened in the days leading up to Sunday’s fiasco.

TRAINING SESSION

When Nation Sport arrived at Camp Toyoyo to cover the team’s final training session on Saturday, they found Oktay and his assistants sharing breakfast of chapati and porridge sold to them by a street food vendor. They remained idle way after their breakfast until 10am when they left for Kasarani for the pre-match press conference.

Later that afternoon, team organising secretary Judith Anyango in a Facebook post pleaded with the players to appear for training: “My boys I know you are in this forum. Rudini grao mupige shughuli. Dess, Kachii, Philo bongeni na team warudi janta tutapambana na mambleina next week.” — (My boys, I know you are in this forum. Dennis Oliech, Philemon Otieno, Francis Kahata speak to the other players to go back to training. We shall deal with the issues next week).

More back-breaking waiting time in Doha ... team unlikely to be proper shape for Sunday match in far away Berkane, Morocco

More back-breaking waiting time in Doha … team unlikely to be proper shape for Sunday match in far away Berkane, Morocco

Her words fell on deaf ears and throughout that night Oktay and team manager Jolawi Abondo desperately pleaded with the players to attend the mandatory one-day camp. But by 10pm on the eve of the match, only strikers Francis Mustafa and Erisa Sekissambu turned up for the residential stay at the Sports View Hotel.

BEGGING

Come midday on match day and it was not yet full house at Sports View. From the account of players who did not want to be named for fear of victimisation, those who had reluctantly presented themselves at Kasarani, captained by former Kenya ace striker Dennis Oliech, frantically called their team mates begging them to show up, as the possibility of them not making the number for the game loomed large.

They finally heeded the advice with some players arriving at Kasarani on motorbikes. It was not until minutes after 1pm that the entire team assembled at the match venue for the 4pm kickoff.

-Additional reporting by Correspondents

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