5 reasons money-minting Nigerian Invitational tournament will help Gor Mahia achieve CAF Champions League targerts

5 reasons money-minting Nigerian Invitational tournament will help Gor Mahia achieve CAF Champions League targerts

Mark Kinyanjui 21:00 - 24.05.2024

Gor Mahia are set to take part in a lucrative invitational tournament in Nigeria this August. Here are five reasons why it will help their preparations for their CAF Champions Leagu campaign next season.

Record FKF Premier League champions Gor Mahia have been invited to participate in the inaugural Coal City International Cup to take place in Enugu, Nigeria from August 1, 2024.

This is a huge step for the historic Kenyan club, who are seeking to make steps towards becoming a big brand in Africa, having already made it clear they are the premier club in the country.

There is also the option of taking part in the CECAFA Kagame Cup, but it is highly unlikely they will take part in it, considering that the International Cup will be taking part in August, clashing with the East and Central region competition, which takes place from  July 20 and will end on 4th August.

Here are five reasons why the invitational Nigerian tournaments will boost Gor Mahia’s  CAF Champions League preparations 

1. A huge commercial booster

The obvious elephant in the room is the financial reward Gor Mahia will gain from taking part in the tournament.

Each team is guaranteed an appearance fee of N5 million (Ksh478,000) per match, ensuring that every club will earn a minimum of N15 million (Ksh1.4 million) after playing at least three matches.

 “The financial incentives are substantial, not only for the clubs but also for the state, which expects to generate approximately N3.5 billion (Ksh286 million) by the end of the tournament,” tournament spokesperson Ifeanyi Ogbu elaborated in a recent interview as per Nigerian publication, The Nation.

The grand prize is especially enticing with the champion slated to take home N50 million (Ksh4.7 million) and the runner-up earning N10 million (Ksh954,000). 

Ogbu highlighted the broader implications of the tournament which will run for 10 days.

“With the successful hosting of this tournament, we can begin to consider Enugu as a viable location for future international matches," he added.

“We shall be eight teams in total, and for every match we will play, the club will benefit from a USD 5,000 appearance prize money. The organizers will also cater for air travel and accommodation. There will also be other winning bonuses,” said Gor Mahia chairman Ambrose Rachier.

2. Will give players exposure against high calibre teams ahead of CAF Champions League

Gor Mahia will be taking part in the Champions League for the first time in over four years, and have found problems making it to the group stages of such competitions.

The only time they have done so in recent times was in the 2018/19 season, when they reached the quarter finals of the Confederation Cup.

Among the international participants are Brazilian Serie A side Esporte Clube Vitoria and FC Kallon of Sierra Leone, along with Cotton FC from the Republic of Benin. 

Representing Nigeria will be prominent clubs such as Enugu Rangers, Enyimba of Aba, Kano Pillars, and Remo Stars of Ogun State.

Facing teams of such repute will give the players the confidence they need for when they face fellow African clubs when their CAF Champions League season kicks off.

Rachier says the tournament will be a good warm-up ahead of next season’s CAF Champions League.

“We have been invited to participate in the Enugu Tournament between August 1 and August 11, 2024 and we have accepted the invitation. The tournament will be healthy for our CAF Champions League preparations,” said Rachier.

3. Will enable new coach to implement philosophy

After two years, Jonathan McKinstry left Gor Mahia to take charge of the Gambia National Football Team, a side that will be facing Harambee Stars at the 2026 World Cup qualifiers next year.

McKinstry left the country last Sunday night for Gambia immediately after K’Ogalo won their 21st title, and is expected back in a fortnight to oversee Gor’s remaining three league matches.

Rachier says the coach will be released officially after the final match of the season.

“He requested for a two-week off duty and we granted him permission to go meet his new players in the Gambian National Team. But he will be back before bidding us final farewell,’’ added Rachier.

McKinstry's contract expires in August, but the club has agreed to release him in June to undertake his new assignment as the Gambian National Team head coach.

The club confirmed they are in the hunt for a new coach, and there are several candidates on the shortlist, including Brazilian native Leo Neiva. 

Regardless, whoever takes charge of the club will use the tournament to implement a playing style he ideally wants his players to execute, and given the tournament is merely invitational, there is not much pressure to produce results.

4. Will be a chance to test new players

Gor Mahia will delve into the transfer window to sign players that can help the side achieve their CAF Champions League ambitions next season.

There is a need to sign players who have continental experience, as well as beef up problematic positions that will help supplement the talented pool of players already at the club.

Pulse Sports understands that the club are in the hunt for a striker and a top defensive midfielder as priority, and there is also need for a wide forward and center back. Should those problems be addressed, they will use the tournament to get minutes and adapt to the system.

The existing players will also get much-needed gametime to boost their fitness.

5. Chance to establish new market

Pre-season tours are not just a chance to play friendly games, but a chance to target new market audiences and get more fans.

The financial gains that teams can generate from pre-season tournaments across the globe are potentially a key element of the clubs’ yearly income.

Therefore, the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic had on clubs  by halting pre-season tours was a significant concern and, for many teams, stopped vital revenue streams as they were unable to tap into new, potentially huge overseas markets and seize promotional opportunities with major sponsors.

Gor Mahia could potentially tap into the Nigerian, and ultimately, West African market by selling merchandise, and playing a brand of football that will win over admirers from that country.