by Adam Mbwana from DAR-ES-SALAAM, Tanzania

With all attention in Tanzania firmly set on English Premier League (EPL) heavyweights Everton FC and their star attraction Wayne Rooney, spare a thought for Thursday opponents, Gor Mahia FC.

The proud Kenyan giants are not used to playing second fiddle in East Africa where they stand as one of the most decorated clubs in the region with 15 domestic and five regional titles.

Throughout their chequered history, K’Ogalo have never shied from the big occasion and they do not come any bigger than the honour of being the first team from this part of the world to lock horns with an EPL side when they play the Blues at the National Stadium in Dar-es-Salaam.

Before turning to pitch matters however, there is the little internal issue of who gets to keep Rooney’s prized jersey after the game.

Reports from Gor’s dressing room indicated everyone from club Chairman, Ambrose Rachier to the kit-man are scrambling to own the former England captain and EPL giants Manchester United FC record goal scorer’s clothing.

While who gets Rooney’s jersey will be an intriguing subplot to the game, there is no doubt Gor are fired up to have their name in the lights when they line up against Ronald Koeman and his star-studded Toffees.

Wayne Rooney displays his Everton jersey after signing up for The Toffees
A run for their money

Meanwhile, jubilant Gor Mahia fans have declared that the appointed hour has come for Wayne Rooney and Everton teammates to bow down to the power of Mayienga (The Earthquake). This, as they trooped to the National Stadium in Dar-es-Salaam on Thursday morning.

Hours before the record 15-time Kenyan champions played the English Premier League (EPL) superstars, ecstatic K’Ogalo supporters made their famous entrance, turning the streets surrounding the stadium into a mosaic of green and white.

Having travelled overnight to watch the historic match, the Green Army hardly looked worse for wear, with their energy reverberating across the streets of the Tanzanian capital as the Mayienga made its way to the battle ground.

“I’m sure (Meddie) Kagere will score a brace and give us a 2-0 win against Everton. Today (Thursday)’s spectacle is going to be in Gor’s favour because our team is surrounded by most talented players in East Africa.

“Last time we weren’t able to showcase our all simply because some of our key players were left behind. The team have been together for the whole season unlike Everton which didn’t get a chance to play together,” Nickson Owiti for the K’Ogalo Kisumu Branch chest-thumped.

Jubilant Gor Mahia FC fans make their way to the National Stadium in Dar for their game against EPL side Everton FC on July 13, 2017
Jubilant Gor Mahia FC fans make their way to the National Stadium in Dar for their game against EPL side Everton FC on July 13, 2017

Kagere top scored at the July 5 to 11, 2017 SportPesa Super Cup, with three goals that led them to win the first edition of the tournament and earn the right to play Everton in a competition Gor were without eight of their regulars on national team duty.

As hundreds of his fellow supporters who went through the entire set of their warrior songs backing him up, the devoted Gor fan added they were confident their team would nullify the threat of Everton star man Rooney.

“We didn’t concede a single goal in SP Super Cup and we will maintain that solid defense today. Rooney won’t be able to bring trouble because the age has catch up with him thus why he was released for free by Manchester United.

“Bonny (Boniface) Odhiambo was not part of the winning team as well as Musa Mohamed the skipper. Kagere was a bit injured not to mention George Odhiambo ‘Blackberry’ who was not in his top form.

“This time we have young and talented players like Maloba and every other key player is here so, we are going to beat them for sure,” Owiti stressed.

He was part of the contingent of Gor supporters from the Kenyan lakeside city who were sponsored to attend the match by Kisumu Governor, Jack Ranguma.