McKinstry: ‘Broke’ Gor Mahia cannot afford players in Tanzania, Ethiopia and Djibouti

McKinstry during a training session with Gor Mahia. (Gor Twitter).

FOOTBALL McKinstry: ‘Broke’ Gor Mahia cannot afford players in Tanzania, Ethiopia and Djibouti

Joel Omotto 13:46 - 30.06.2023

The tactician feels K’Ogalo will have to choose carefully before making new signings given their limited budget

Gor Mahia coach Jonathan McKinstry is targeting players from rival teams as well as Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi as he seeks to strengthen his squad ahead of next season.

McKinstry guided Gor Mahia to the Football Kenya Federation Premier League title in the just-concluded season and is planning ahead given his side will be challenging locally and on the continental after qualifying for the CAF Champions League.

While he will need plenty of quality and experience, the Northern Irishman feels it will be impossible for Gor Mahia to price players away from Tanzanian and Ethiopian leagues and they are better off shopping in lesser leagues given their financial constraints.

“We want players who have been playing regularly and that is never easy because transfer fees for teams here in Kenya have not been a regular thing in recent years,” McKinstry told Pulse Sports.

“A signing is not just a player’s salary, it is a signing-on fee, transfer fee to another club and if you go and look at the Ethiopian market and Tanzanian market, these are clubs that are paying $5,000 (Ksh700,000)-$10,000 (Ksh1.4 million).

“There are players I have enquired about who have played for me before playing for teams in Tanzania and Ethiopia, even Djibouti, and they have come back and said to me; ‘Coach I’m earning $8,000 (Ksh1.1 million) a month here. That is not a market we can compete in.

“Where’s there are markets in Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, maybe even in West Africa, but we have to be careful about the players we sign. We have to know their characters, we have to know that they are coming here to win and not just to pick up a salary.”

The tactician is also wary of signing players based on reputation given how similar transfers have previously failed to sparkle at K’Ogalo.

“You have seen in recent seasons when K’Ogalo have dropped away from the top of the table, there have been some players here who were maybe not worth the salary they were being paid,” he added.

“You see players we have tried to bring in already, the likes of Patrick Kaddu, Shafiq Kagimu, even the young guys locally Sylvester Owino, these are guys who are worth their salary. So, we have to ensure we are getting the right characters and players who will help us grow.”

McKinstry has insisted that his young side is ahead of schedule after winning the league against the odds, when few gave them the chance, and it is from that perspective that he is not putting pressure on them to go very far in the Champions League.

“Our target is to win our first game and take it from there, we are coming up against teams that have very huge budgets compared to us. Tanzanian teams have at least five times, six times the budget we have,” said McKinstry.

“You go to North African teams who are spending transfer fees of $1 million (Ksh140 million) to sign players, the likes of Al Ahly, Zamalek, Raja Casablanca, they’ve got budgets 10, 15 times of what ours are but ultimately, a chequebook doesn’t play a football match.

“It’s 11 men who step out there and we’re going see how we can navigate those choppy waters. I am used to taking teams and punching above our weight and that is what we will have to do with K’Ogalo. We will have to make sure the chequebook does not count so much but it’s about the character of the players.”