Former Gor Mahia midfielder earns high praise in Zambia

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STARS ABROAD Former Gor Mahia midfielder earns high praise in Zambia

Joel Omotto 13:07 - 13.11.2023

The Kenyan defensive midfielder has been lauded for his impressive displays since signing for Zanaco FC from FKF Premier League champions Gor Mahia.

Former Gor Mahia midfielder John ‘Champe’ Ochieng has been lauded as one of the best signings in the Zambian Super League this season following a string of good performances for Zanaco FC.

Ochieng left Gor at the end of his contract amid rumours of a move to Europe but opted for Zambia where he signed for Zanaco alongside former K'Ogalo team-mate Dennis Ng’ang’a.

After starting on the bench in his first two games, Ochieng has become a mainstay in coach Wedson Nyirenda’s side, starting the last seven games in a row.

The defensive midfielder has earned rare reviews in Zambia for his combative approach which makes him hard to beat and there is hope among Zanaco supporters that he will fill the shoes vacated by club legend Salulani Phiri.

“At a time when there has been rife debate about the quality of foreign [players] gracing our league, Zanaco have effervesced some great scouting or is it swagger in recruitment,” writes Zambian journalist Wami Katanga, who works at Bolla Zambia.

“John ‘Champe’ Ochieng stands to be one of the best signings of the season. Joined from Kenyan giants Gor Mahia after an outstanding season in which he was voted the best in his position, Champe is already finding his feet in Zambia.

“A midfield enforcer, Champe was brought to fill in the big shoes left by club legend Salulani Phiri and is already one of Wedson Nyirenda’s key players at Sunset Stadium.”

Ochieng’s physicality and hard tackling has been a key feature in his game although it has earned him bookings in nearly every game, something Zanaco fans hope he can work on to avoid getting in trouble.

The midfielder joined Gor Mahia in September 2020 from the now-defunct Chamelil Sugar FC but could not nail down a regular starting place at K’Ogalo with Ernest Wendo preferred ahead of him.

"John felt that at this time in his career he wanted more certainty of a starting XI place, and that's something we could not give him, and we wish him all the very best," Gor Mahia coach Johnathan McKinstry told the One-On-One Podcast in July, revealing why the midfielder left the club.

Zanaco have not have a fruitful start to the season, however, as they have won just two of their last eight games, with Saturday’s 1-0 win over Kansanshi Dynamos ending a three-match winless run which leaves them eighth on the table with 18 points, four behind leaders Red Arrows.

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