Analysis : How Benson Omala and Austine Odhiambo are rewriting record books at Gor Mahia

Benson Omala and Austine Odhiambo have been a dream partnership for Gor Mahia. IMAGE/ Capital FM.

FKFPL Analysis : How Benson Omala and Austine Odhiambo are rewriting record books at Gor Mahia

Mark Kinyanjui 08:32 - 09.03.2024

This is why Gor Mahia fans must be greatful that they get to watch the potent partnership of Benson Omala and Austine Odhiambo propel them to glory every week.

Since the appointment of Johnathan McKinstry in late 2022, Benson Omala’s goalscoring numbers have taken a notch higher in ways he had never done before.

The Kenyan international managed to equal the long-standing 26 goal mark goalscoring record set by Maurice Aloo ‘Sonyi’ in 1976, although he missed out on the golden boot to Elvis Rupia.

He has taken his form on to this season, leading the goal scoring charts with 11 after 22 matches played.

While people have been quick to notice him, they have not given as much attention to Austine Odhiambo, his partner in crime and creator-in-chief of the Green K’Ogalo army.

The two players have practically finished each others’ sentences on and off the pitch under McKinstry, epitomising just how high their telepathy has grown over the last two years.

Odhiambo has scored seven goals and registered four assists this season, and even though those assist numbers may not appear numerous, his pre-assists have been a joy to behold, giving those line breaking passes mostly to the wider players, who have then cut it back for finishers like Omala to burry.

Speaking before the start of the current season, Omala revealed why their combination is a force to be reckoned with.

“We have played together for a long time now and we have known each other,” Omala said. “ He knows how I run and he knows how to give me balls that I can shoot on target,” he added.

“That is why the combination is lethal and we are going to score more goals together.”

This is indeed the case if you take a sample of some of the goals Omala has scored this season, including the first leg of the Mashemeji Derby against sworn rivals AFC Leopards, a game they won 2-0 thanks to his brace.

Austine is known for his ability to hit accurate passes into space thanks to his vision and passing, and for Omala’s opening goal, he sent him a precise channel ball which the former Western Stima man attacked given his speed and stamina before lobbing it over keeper Levis Opiyo, who mistimed his attempted sweep.

Austine Odhiambo receives posession of the ball and drives with it forward before spotting Omala make a run
Omala attacks the space at pace, which means he gets on the end of Austin's ball well
AFC Leopards keeper Opiyo then rushes off his line
Which allows Omala to nonchalantly lob the ball into the back of the net.

Austine himself has gotten on the end of Omala’s assists even though the Chapa Dimba graduate is advised by the coach not to drop deep and link the play given it would take him away from doing what he does best, which is attack the spaces as McKinstry said after the match.

“It is almost as if people want him to be Lionel Messi. There are moments where he will drop in. We saw that. (Against AFC Leopards) there was a moment where he was in an offside position. He checked into the pocket and a little outside to the boot to lay it off to Austin on the run in the first half and then pushed it to Pappy (Sibomana) on the run,” McKinstry said.

“If you read a lot of stuff from the blogs and the papers, you would think he has to be playing like Dennis Bergkamp (operating the pockets) which is not his strength.

“His strength is to focus on spaces behind the opponents, moving when he needs to move but also being explosive when he needs to be explosive, not to stand in the number 10 position.”

McKinstry  revealed that asking Omala to do much more to the team would make him less effective, hence the reason he has been asking him to keep playing to his strengths of exploiting space in behind with his pace.

“If I want a number 10, I ask Austine to do it, I ask Lawi (Lawrence Juma) to do it. There is a lot of noise when you are a young player scoring goals about the extra stuff you need to do and yes, we always need to add to someone’s game and we are doing it, but not at the sacrifice of what makes you a really talented player.”

However, during their rampant 4-1 win over Posta Rangers last weekend, Omala did actually drop deep before spotting Austin make a run, which allowed him to set him up nicely for the fourth goal.

Omala has posession of the ball from deep, before he spots Austin Odhiambo make a run
He then releases the ball into space for Austin to get on the end of
He manages to time his run to perfection past the blindside of the Posta defender
Before slotting it home

Omala nearly departed to join two different Algerian clubs in January, but the move failed to materialise.

He has since agreed to stay on for now  and help Gor Mahia achieve their objective of winning the league and getting Champions League football for next season.

Austine will also have suitors coming his way quite soon if he keeps on playing as he is, with McKinstry even tipping him to win the Most Valuable Player award next season.

The two may not play together much longer because of the interest, but while they are still at the club, K’Ogalo faithful should cherish them.

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