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Remembering never-say-die Gor lads who wrestled down Esperance

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TOM OSANJO

By TOM OSANJO
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December 5 remains a very special day in the history of this country and in the world.

It is on this day 32 years ago that Gor Mahia became the first and only Kenyan and East African club to win a continental title, the Africa Cup Winners Cup.

This cup had just been renamed the Nelson Mandela Cup in honour of South Africa’s freedom fighter and first black president Nelson Mandela.

On December 5, 2013, the world was sent into mourning after one of the greatest sons of Africa Nelson Mandela passed on.

The coincidence of the two events is very interesting.

I look back with nostalgia, the day Austin “Makamu” Oduor lifted the Nelson Mandela Cup at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani after edging out Tunisian team Esperance.

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Just like many other ecstatic K’Ogalo fans, I had trekked from our humble abode in Dandora to Kasarani Stadium early in the morning to be part of this historic moment.

My beloved Gor Mahia had fought gallantly to hold Esperance 2-2 in Tunis and Kasarani was pregnant on this day, the title was going to be delivered.

A few pessimists feared a repeat of the 1979 finals when Gor Mahia was mauled by Cameroon side Canon Younde.

But as it is said, lightning does not strike twice, Gor Mahia was never going to allow this title to leave Kenya.

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Gor Mahia had come all the way to the finals unbeaten. They beat El-Mereikh of Sudan in the second round, Entente Sportif of Togo in the quarter-finals and Benin moneybag side Dragons in the semi-finals before a date with Esperance.

Fought like wounded lions

At Kasarani Stadium, Esperance used all the dirty tricks just as they had in the first leg, but Gor Mahia players, led by Austin Oduor, were never going to be put down.

At some point, a Tunisia player tried to poke Peter ‘Omuga’ Dawo’s eyes but that never worked to kill the spirit.

And when Dawo rose to head home Gor Mahia’s goal, the newly-built Moi International Sports Complex nearly came down.

Despite the Tunisians forcing an equaliser, Gor Mahia were declared champions. I spare this space to honour the great players who brought glory to this country.

David Ochieng, Tobias Ocholla, George Otieno Solo, Peter Otieno Bassanga, Austin Oduor, Isaiah Omondi, Charles Otieno, George Nyangi, Peter ‘Artillery’ Ochieng Pierre, Peter Dawo, Sammy Onyango, Tom Gundo, Jaffer Mwidau, Dan Miswa, Anthony Ndolo, Ben ‘Breakdance’ Oloo, Ahmed Shero

Valentine Odongo, Swaleh Ochieng, Fanuel Oluoch, Hezborn Omollo, Abbas Magongo, George Onyango, Tirus Omondi. Thank you very much.

These are the true heroes of Kenyan football. The legends of K’Ogalo.

And as December 5 came to pass, I looked back on this day years ago when this group of players brought pride to Kenyan and East African football.

I pray for another success story from Gor Mahia one day. The spirit of K’Ogalo and the spirit of Nelson Mandela lives on.

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Europe beckons for South African rugby after Kiwi snub

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Jul 20World Cup-winning Springbok Schalk Brits believes the future of South African rugby lies in Europe after New Zealand said there was no room for sides from the republic in Super Rugby.

“All of this jet lag and flying across different time zones just does not work,” said the hooker who retired after the triumphant 2019 World Cup campaign.

“We have got so many South Africans playing in Europe and it would be awesome to see them in action here for European clubs.”

With New Zealand favouring a trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition, South Africa Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux will address the media Tuesday about the way forward.

There has been no rugby in South Africa since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, which claimed 5,033 lives by late Sunday, the most in an African country.

Here, AFP Sport looks at the possibilities for the world champions Springboks and Super Rugby teams the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers.

Rugby Championship

There has been speculation that the six-round annual tournament will be cut to four matches with New Zealand and Australia playing in South Africa only every second year.

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That would be a huge blow for SA Rugby coffers as the century-old rivalry with the All Blacks makes them a huge drawcard.

South Africa might consider abandoning the Championship and pursuing a suggestion by former All Blacks Justin Marshall and Jeff Wilson for three-Test tours between the great rivals.

“British and Irish Lions tours are so successful because we look forward to them,” noted another ex-All Black, John Kirwan. The same could be said of an All Blacks-Springboks series.

‘Seven Nations’

Should South African franchises move north, would the Springboks follow suit and apply to join England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales in a ‘Seven Nations’ championship?

Having the world champions on board would surely excite the organisers and costs would be greatly reduced if the Springboks played their three away matches on consecutive weekends.

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England, Ireland, France and Wales, in particular, would bring freshness for rugby followers, who have not rushed to the turnstiles for Championship visits by Australia and Argentina.

Ask the SA Rugby treasurer for his ‘dream’ line-up and he would surely say a multi-Test tour by the All Blacks and participation in the ‘Seven Nations’.

Super Rugby

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Although not official yet, the reality is that New Zealand want to play some Australian sides and the Pacific Islands in a new competition while excluding South Africa and Argentina.

The original version, a Super 10 between 1993 and 1995, was a superb competition, but constant tinkering and expansion has led to waning interest in a difficult-to-follow event.

Even those supporting the Golden Lions of South Africa could not have derived too much satisfaction from a 94-7 thrashing of Japanese visitors the Sunwolves three years ago.

South Africa sides often battled with time differences in Australasia — New Zealand is 11 hours ahead of the republic — and were weary after four-match tours.

‘Pro16’

Pro14 chief executive Martin Anayi says he would welcome Super Rugby ‘rejects’ the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers into an expanded edition.

“The tournament works well but could be even better if we added some South African teams,” he said, referring to a competition that also includes Irish, Italian, Scottish and Welsh teams.

But there may be no room for the two current South African Pro14 participants, the Cheetahs and Kings, who have experienced very different fortunes.

While the Cheetahs have been competitive, the Kings won just four of 55 matches in three seasons with some of the losing margins embarrassing.

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Currie Cup

The domestic competition has survived constant format changes to remain the vital ‘nursery’ from which Springboks emerge.

First staged in 1892, it was the bedrock of South African rugby until the dawn of professionalism after the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

As Test and Super Rugby fixtures took up an increasing amount of the season, the Currie Cup often battled for calendar space.

But it survived and this year could feature the four Super Rugby sides plus the Cheetahs, Kings, Griquas and Pumas, if play is possible amid the coronavirus.

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Kenya records highest number of deaths from Covid-19

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Kenya records highest number of deaths from Covid-19

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Kenya’s coronavirus cases rise to 13,771 after 418 more infections

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By NATION REPORTER

Kenya on Monday reported 418 more Covid-19 infections, raising the country’s tally to 13,771 since the virus was first confirmed on March 13.

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Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Rashid Aman also reported four more deaths, raising the toll to 238. He rectified an earlier report about 19 deaths in a single day, which would have been the highest number ever recorded in Kenya.

The 418 new patients were found following the testing of 2,474 samples in the last 24 hours.

Four hundred and eight of them were Kenyans and 10 foreigners while male patients numbered 263 and female patients 155.

Dr Aman also announced that 494 patients had been discharged, raising the country’s total number of recoveries to 5,616.

Of the recovered patients, 465 were under home care and the rest in hospitals.

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