Before i embark on part 2, there are some people i would like to mention. The missing name in the squad is that of Jaffer Mwidau to make the number 18.
The MOTCOM player who destroyed us in that friendly was called Nagasule, a person with a big gap between his teeth and everytime he scored, he laughed and you could easily see the gap of the missing teeth. He scored a hat-trick in this game.
The last reminder was the dropping of Nick Okoth who to me was one of the best defenders of our time due to a nagging knee/shin injury. It was sad to leave him behind and he never played well after that.
While airborne, AFC Leopards players were in cloud nine and we looked miserable because the talk doing rounds in Nairobi before we departed was that K'Ogalo had just sent clothes to Khartoum. This meant we were underdogs and even the die hard Gor Mahia fans could not bet on us this time.
After being met at the airport by the Kenyan envoy, we moved to the outskirts of Khartoum where our hotel was located. Not a bad hotel but below standards compared to Kenyan Hotels. Here we were given our first taste of the tournament when the fixtures were presented to us.
Our pool was to play in Khartoum and the teams were Simba SC - Champions of Tanzania, Sports Villa - Champions of Uganda, Limbe Leaf - Champions of Malawi, Gor Mahia of Kenya and Al- Hilal - Champions of Sudan and co- hosts of the tournament.
The other pool was equally tight and had our Kenyan counterparts AFC Leopards, Nkana Red Devils - Zambian Champions, El- Mereikh from Sudan and a team from Zanzibar and Somalia. This pool was based in Omdurman. The stage was set and the curtains were drawn for the tournament to begin.
The first game in our pool was between Limbe Leaf and Al- Hilal which ended in a draw. This game was fast paced and a thriller and this really scared my fellow recruit Arthur Onyango. He thought the game was of high level and we stood no chance against these professionals. These players paid to play while K'Ogalo was an amateur club who had not even received their allowances for training yet.
I did not even know there were allowances to be paid but was just looking for an opportunity to show my skills and being in Sudan to participate in such a tourney was my joy I told Arthur (may his soul rest in peace) that i was not going to be scared at all and did not expect it easy anyway.
1st Game: Gor- Mahia Vs Simba SC
In Sudan, most matches are played at night and they are one hour behind us. Gor Mahia's line up for the 1st game was: GK-Tirus Omondi (1), R-FB- Isaiah Omondi (2), L-FB Swaleh Ochieng (3), Stopper John Bobby Ogola (4), Sweeper Austin Oduor - captain (5), midfielders George Nyangi Odembo (6), John Okello Zangi (8) and Sammy Onyango playing as inside left (10), Micky Adede was the striker (9) and the two flanks were manned by Hesborne Omollo (7) and Ben Oloo Breakdance (11).
A fantastic combination. But after watching the fast paced Limbe/Hilal game, we approached this game cautiously and played man to man in the midfield and were rewarded when Micky Adede gave as the opener in the 35th minute. This approach was good for we were the lowly rated team in the tournament and it was Bobby giving instructions to the midfielders not to forget their marking roles.
We continued to defend this goal in almost the entire second half until Simba SC got a corner in the 85th minute. At this moment we were under real pressure and at this time i saw Zamoyoni Mogella elude his marker, Zangi, and scored with a beautiful glancer.
John Bobby Ogola was an angry man and thought Zangi could have done better for he had given clear instructions on who to hang with who. However, the game ended in a draw 1-1 but we thought we could have won that match.
Another reality dawned on us that John Okello Zangi had a nagging ankle injury hence the heavy bandaging on his ankle thus making it difficult for him rise up and take a header. It was also becoming clear that Sammy Onyango Jogoo had an injury on his shin which he came with to Khartoum, same to Hesborne Omollo.
I kept wondering in the dressing room why some players were tieing there legs with heavy bandages and realised that half the team were playing with injuries including John Bobby Ogola and Swaleh Ochieng. Despite scoring in this game, Adede never played any other game but positions 1-6 and 8 players, played and maintained their roles in the entire tournament.
Gor Mahia had bagged a point and driven home a message to the rest of the teams in this pool despite the silent injuries in the team. The next game was against Sports Villa of Uganda.
The following day was a rest day and the team was now gaining confidence after the 1st game which to us despite being underdogs, thought we could have won for the Simba SC goalkeeper Iddy Pazzi made many acrobatic saves. The team ignored the rest day and continued planning and everyone was clearly told his mistakes.
For example, the goal that was scored could have been intercepted by Tirus Omondi the GK and the whole blame was not on Zangi alone. The strikers were also given a thorough dressing for allowing Simba SC defenders to prowl upfront and should have closed them down on their own half.
K'Ogalo decided to forget the other 4S's of the game namely Skill, Speed, Stamina and Strength and decided to apply one critical S that is STRATEGY. This was later to change the K'Ogalo original play which was pure entertainment to heavy defense and midfield play and a quick counter attack whose effect was to be seen in the final day.
2nd Game: Gor Mahia vs Sports - Villa SC
In this game, Gor played a 4-3-3 formation.
The Ugandan team was captained by Hasule and coached by David Otti who was a former K'Ogalo coach. Gor Mahia once again played cautiously because of the Otti factor for he had coached almost 5 players in the team and knew their style of play. The only change in the team was the resting of Adede and in came Gedion Hamisi on the inside left role (10).
Hesborne Omollo was to play as striker (9) and Sammy Onyango Jogoo to play at the right flank (7) for he could shoot with both legs and indeed he proved this as he scored the opener with a thunderous 20 yard shot with his right leg in the 60th minute of the game.
We were winning this one but it was not to be so for Sports Villa got a corner and the towering Hasule scored the equalizer with a header. Tirus Omondi was to blame again for not intercepting the cross. The equalizer was again at the 80th Minute as we went back to our camp with our heads down for it was now dawning on us that we were actually a good side.
In this game, i came in for the scorer Sammy Onyango at the 75th Minute but could not bring any change. Sammy Jogoo could not play another game in the tournament because the injury was discovered to be a fracture later on yet we continued massaging the injury only to open the fracture more wide open (may his soul rest in peace for this was one the finest football products i set eyes on and played with later).
The following day was rest day and K'Ogalo continued to strategize.
Please read Part 3 tomorrow which will be heavily loaded for this is where K'Ogalo starts winning.