Media Watch

OSANJO: Why we have unfinished business with cheats Zamalek

Courtesy of Nation Media

When the draw to the CAF Confederation Cup was done last week, I expected an interesting grouping.

And it did not disappoint because it pitted us against one of our bitter, if not the bitterest, rivals in African football, Zamalek.

The draw brought memories of the night in 1984 when a referee in collusion with Zamalek players decided to turn into a football match into a farce and as it remains, that game will forever be etched in the history of Kenyan football, if not African.

On that day, Gor Mahia had travelled to play the Egyptian giants in the second round of the Africa Club Championships- now renamed Africa Champions League.

That time, Gor had arguably the best players in this region and respected across the continent. Gor would face any team without fear.

So when K’Ogalo, under coach Len Julians, paraded at the Cairo Stadium, they gave their hearts out, matching the Egyptians in all departments.

Frustrated, the Egyptians started using underhand tactics to win the game.

A Zamalek player was to dive in the Gor Mahia box after being tripped by midfielder Abbas Khamis Magongo.

While replays showed clearly the player had been upended yards outside the box, the Sudanese referee, after sharing some words or two with Zamalek players in Arabic, sent Magongo off and awarded Zamalek a penalty.

Hell broke loose, despite the penalty being taken after protests by Gor Mahia players, the match did not continue. George Otieno “Sollo” handed the ball to the referee, Abey Nassur accosted the ref, and the rest is history.

Gor was to be banned from continental football for three years. Magongo’s nickname of “Zamalek” was coined after the Cairo incident.

We find ourselves facing Zamalek once more time.

We have played them before in 1996 but the memories of 1984 remain clear.

So much may have changed since 1984, many of the players then are no more, but the rivalry will never die.

Our meeting this time in the CAF CC will live to remind Zamalek that the unsporting behavior in winning the game then has no place in modern football.

They may have won dubiously on that day but it will never happen again.

I know many might be looking at us against the poor run we have just had at the SportPesa Tournament in Dar es Salaam, but being the ever optimistic, I choose to see it just as a blip in our march towards greater glory.

I can assure you that come the continental outing proper, you will see the real Gor Mahia.

Gor Mahia is ready for you Zamalek.

We have some unfinished business! We are Gor Mahia, the “Husband of Teams”

tomosanjo@yahoo.com

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