TIMOTHY OLOBULU / AIPS in NAIROBI: Troubled Kenyan champions Gor Mahia have something to smile about after President Uhuru Kenyatta fulfillled a $22,000 pledge he made after meeting them in State House last year.

The President had hosted the club in his official residence after they won the Kenyan league and promised them a cash reward for their efforts.

“We are very delighted that the president has honoured his promise and given us his cash award. Though it is a small amount in comparison to our current needs, we appreciate because it will help some bit,” Gor Mahia’s deputy secretary general Ronald Ngala told AIPS.

The Kenyan champions had previously expressed doubt of their participation in the CAF Champions League due to their financial predicament but help from the head of state has offered a glimmer of hope might raise them up.

During the previous visit, the President also promised to help them secure a sponsor after Tuzo declined to extend its contract last March.

“We are hopeful that the President will deliver this promise as well. Having delivered his cash promise, it gives us hope that he will work on this as well. The burden has been too heavy for the past season as we have been forced to dig into our own pockets to finance the team and having someone to help us carry that burden will be great,” added Ngala.

He intimated to AIPS that their budget for both legs of their Champions League match against Madagascar side CNaPS is close to Sh10million (About 110,000USD) for both legs, an amount he says will be difficult to raise.

Also, their monthly budget incorporating player and staff salaries, operational costs and other expenditure goes close to Sh6million (about $66,000).

This comes as another high profile player leaves the club for Zambian Champions Zesco United, bringing the number of influential players who have left to three.

Defender David Owino signed a two year deal with Zesco, bringing his three-year stay at K’Ogalo to an end. The club hope to lure at least two foreign players into the side to strengthen for the new season after the departure of the three.

Already, they have signed Ghanaian striker Taofiq Zachary while they are luring Uganda Cranes midfielder Khalid Aucho whose contract with local rivals Tusker FC collapsed on December 31. Another player on their radar is Burundian midfielder Christope Nduwarugira.

Gor Mahia are the most successful Kenyan football club having won the league 14 times and the cup 10 times. They will be hoping to perform better in the Champions League than they did last season, exiting in the first round after an 8-2 aggregate beating by Tunisia’s Esperance.

** AIPS is the international sports journalists’ association with 10,000 members worldwide. More information: www.AIPSmedia.com

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