There exists an old adage that goes, east or west, home is the best. Such has been the experience that Gor Mahia have formed with their coaches. The Kenyan league Champions have formed a norm of only hiring Europeans as their head coach. Some have walked into the club promising much but ends up delivering very little. Albeit hiring foreigners as head coaches, Kogalo has always tried their best to hire local coaches as assistant coaches. The local tacticians have had an opportunity however to be in other roles. Positions such as those of the team physician and trainers have always remained open for locals.
Former members of the playing unit have had a bigger chance of filling the other positions. One thing however that is worth noting is the outspoken nature of the Kogalo coaches. In the bandwagon of foreign coaches, Gor Mahia has had a total of seven foreign coaches since coming back to life in 2013. Croatian Zdravko Logarusic leads the list of foreign coaches since 2013. As the head coach of the team, the high controversial coach helped bring Kogalo to what it’s known today. They came and conquered, they have made the club to be what it is today.
None of the foreign coaches has ever denied speaking about their employer whether still coaching or not. In revealing their experiences to renowned media outlets, the former foreign coaches have always showered the club with heaps of praising. Some of them have even suggested coming back if the need arises to be in the future.
Ze Maria Speaks
He helped manage the club while it was in total crisis. Despite keeping mum for a long time over his former employer, Ze Maria, a former Brazilian and Itermillan player has come out to talk about the champions. The former FK Tirana coach managed Kogalo in the 2016 Kenya Premier League season. Albeit being less successful compared to other foreign coaches in the recent past, Ze Maria helped to bring in a new style of play at the club. Speaking from time to time as the head coach of the team, the former Brazilian international always made it clear. He was ever categorical in developing a style of play at the club instead of scoring goals. As per his words, Gor Mahia started to play like a typical Brazilian national team, the Samba boys.
For a whole season, even those who were never Gor Mahia fans, turned into Kogalo fanatics all of a sudden. The beautifully fast-paced attack-oriented style of play made everybody to love the team. With players showing a lot of creativity whenever called upon to rise up for the occasion. Ze Maria would however leave the club on unclear circumstances heading to FK Tirana.
In a recent interview with the Guardian however, Ze Maria revealed what many have never come to know of his experience with the champions. The former coached lauded praises to both the players, fans, and even to the club management that he worked with. In narrating his experience, he revealed all the ups and downs which faced at the club.
“I arrived in Nairobi and, when I got off the plane, I almost caught fire. The sun burns your skin. I walked down the road and there were zebras on the other side. I was having lunch next to Lake Victoria and a guy came over and said: “Careful if you see any waves here, because it might be a hippopotamus. People wondered what I was doing there. ‘Ze Maria who played for Brazil and Inter’? They wanted to touch me. People wanted to hear my stories. It (Gor Mahia) was the biggest club in Kenya, so every game was like managing Flamengo it Corthinians in Brazil. The stadium was packed.”
African players and Brazilian players.
During his stint in the country, Ze Maria acknowledges the massive football talent in the country. He however takes a swift at the football infrastructure in the country as the main hindrance to football professionalism. If managed well and proper structures put in place, the Portuguesa coach believes that Kenyan players can easily replicate their Brazilian counterparts.
“There were difficulties. Sometimes you go to a stadium where the players don’t all fit in the changing room, so you have to change on the bus. But the passion is absurd. African players are technically similar to Brazilians, but they lack opportunities to move to bigger leagues. Because of the pitches, when you dribbled the ball would bounce a metre up in the air, but the quality with which they controlled and conducted it, not even a Brazilian would do that,” he explained.