Gor Mahia's catalogue of errors that keep embarrassing the club

Photo Credit: Gor Mahia

FOOTBALL Gor Mahia's catalogue of errors that keep embarrassing the club

Joel Omotto 07:00 - 07.02.2024

Benson Omala’s failed move to Algerian club JS Saoura adds to a catalogue of errors that have left Gor Mahia embarrassed in recent years but what are the other ones?

Benson Omala’s failed move to Algerian club JS Saoura is yet another incident that has left record Kenyan champions Gor Mahia with an egg on their face.

Omala was set to complete a six-month loan move to Algeria on Monday but the deal collapsed later in the day, leaving many questions over what really happened.

While Gor Mahia have exonerated themselves, saying they did everything within their powers to ensure Omala sealed the transfer, its failure on the basis of everything not being done on time leaves the club looking bad.

It is yet another sore thump that sticks out for Gor Mahia who seem to continue getting embarrassed by a number of key boardroom decisions.

Omala’s failed move

Gor Mahia chairman Ambrose Rachier said while the club hierarchy received report of JS Saoura’s interest on Thursday, they suspected the people pushing for it and even the player was not aware until the weekend when he agreed to head to North Africa.

The club would give its go ahead of Monday, the deadline day for the midseason transfer window in Algeria.

“We even made a follow-up on the TMS system and even called [Stephen] Ochiel (Omala’s agent) and Omala’s father’s phone was off. It was 11pm on Monday that we were informed that the transfer had failed and that JS Saoura had registered another player,” Rachier told Nation.

However, Ochiel feels the club is not sincere, claiming initial contact was made on Wednesday, and that the deal would have been done on Friday had Gor Mahia not demanded over Ksh6 million for the loan deal before dragging their feet until JS Saoura gave up and signed another player.

“Rachier signed the deal at a petroleum station on Sunday night. Omala had to look for transport to take him there but again, he had no rubber stamp, forcing the issue to be dealt with again on Monday 10am which was too late,” Ochiel told the outlet.

The back and forth leaves Gor Mahia as the winners as they kept hold of their talisman but now have an unhappy player whom they will have to get a tune out of for their league charge but most importantly, paints the club in bad light given how they handled the situation.

An outright refusal or an early sanction of the move would have saved the club a lot of explanations and the embarrassment.

CAF Champions League mishap

Omala’s transfer comes months after Gor Mahia suffered yet another embarrassment when they were kicked out the 2023-24 CAF Champions League at the last minute for failing to meet club licensing regulations.

Gor Mahia were set to return to the high table of African club football but were flagged down by CAF over their failure to clear salary arrears and fines from the termination of contracts owed to former players Yangayay Sando Sando, Jules Ulimwengu, Adama Keita running into millions.

In Article 60 of the CAF Men's Club Licensing Regulations, clubs applying for a license must demonstrate that they have no overdue payables towards current and former employees as of March 31, the year in which the CAF club competitions commence.

On July 18, 2023 CAF notified Gor Mahia and FKF of a complaint in relation to a case that had been determined by FIFA. The complaint had been raised by Yangayay, who cited the club's “failure to honour overdue payments” as per the agreement.

The club dilly-dallied with the issue and left themselves with little time to make amends by the time CAF was revoking their license, just days before the draw for the preliminary round of the competition.

As a result, Kenya did not have a representative in the Champions League while the players who worked so hard to win the league could not enjoy the fruits of their sweat at continental level.

Transfer bans

Similarly in 2021, Ugandan player Shafik Batambuze, his Tanzanian counterpart Dickson Ambundo and coach Steven Polack took Gor Mahia to FIFA over their pending salaries with K’Ogalo subsequently banned from signing new players until they cleared the arrears.

FKF was not spared either as it was fined Ksh6 million for clearing Gor Mahia’s new signings when they were under a transfer embargo.

K’Ogalo also found themselves in hot soup over a Sh3.3 million payment owed to Ghanaian player Jackson Owusu.

As per FIFA’s directives, Gor Mahia were to transfer the pending funds to Owusu in a decision issued on June 30, 2021 but the club ignored the order.

While they have had financial challenges in the recent past, a club the size of Gor Mahia should have handled the aforementioned issues in a better manner to avoid plunging themselves not only into crisis but also painting them in bad light.