Meet Gad Mathews Otieno, a goalkeeping hero in Gor Mahia's historic title-winning season

FKFPL Meet Gad Mathews Otieno, a goalkeeping hero in Gor Mahia's historic title-winning season

Mark Kinyanjui 15:56 - 30.06.2023

The custodian kept 17 clean sheets as Gor Mahia lifted a historic 20th league title.

Gor Mahia keeper Gad Mathews Otieno has had an unforgettable season in the top-flight of Kenyan football. Apart from helping his side make history by becoming the first ever side to win 20 FKF Premier league titles, he has also won the golden glove, albeit alongside Nzoia Sugar’s Humphrey Katasi.

The race for the title has been tighter than ever before, as K’ogalo won the title on 70 points, just one point ahead of Tusker. It has been a roller coaster, with both teams consistently switching the top two places for large parts of the season.

Mathews opts to view it as a positive, claiming it has helped both teams get the best out of each other which can only be perfect for the quality of the league.

“It has not been easy. All teams have fought hard for the title but we have also worked hard as Gor Mahia players to ensure we get to the next level.

“We are pleased to win the 20th title. I am part of it and I appreciate it. The fans have played a key part in helping us reach here. The coach and the officials have also helped us achieve this,” Mathews said

The former Kisumu All-Stars custodian, who signed for Gor at the beginning of the 2020/2021 season, shot into the limelight after a sublime performance in the finals of the FKF cup at the Nyayo National Stadium in July 2021, where he denied arch-rivals AFC Leopards two post-match penalties to clinch the title for his side.

But after exclamations of joy following his top-notch performance, Mathews found himself increasingly unsettled at K'Ogalo, with the future holding out lots of uncertainties.

He came out in public, training his guns on his employers, who he accused of denying him his dues. The issue has since been rectified. He has since had a massive improvement in performance and maturity, which even earned him a call-up to the national team for the friendly against Iran in March.

“I am very happy to be named the best keeper. The Nzoia keeper (Humphrey Katasi) has also gone toe-to-toe with me. He caught up with me but I am happy to get 17 clean sheets all in all. The competition has been stiff. Levis Opiyo of AFC Leopards has also gone toe to toe with me which has been good for competition’s sake.”

The shot-stopper has credited the coaching of Boniface Oluoch, a Gor Mahia and Harambee Stars custodian for several years.

Mathews describes him as “A mentor” who has set the path for him to “follow in his footsteps”.

“I am grateful to my coach Boniface Oluoch who has guided me every step of the way and I hope to follow in his footsteps.”

“I thank my defenders as well. Keeping clean sheets has not been easy but we have managed to find a way through. I hope we can continue shining and winning together.”

In 2019, Gor Mahia reached the quarter-finals of the CAF Confederation Cup. Despite being linked with moves away, including even to Sweden, Mathews insists he is determined to help Gor challenge for the continental stage and maybe even take a step further.

“I believe we can do it. We have a lot of quality but if we can add a little more, I think it will give us a good shout to keep challenging for the league.”

Earlier this year, FIFA lifted the transfer ban on Gor Mahia FC after the record Kenyan champions completed payments owed to former players.

The world football governing body issued Gor with a two-window ban in 2021 for failing to pay Ghanaian Jackson Owusu and later goalkeeper Adama Keita.

After Owusu sued K'Ogalo, the reigning league winners were instructed by Fifa's Dispute Resolution Chamber (DRC) to pay him within 45 days which they failed to comply.

The player then requested FIFA to issue a sanction against the current league leaders and the action was followed through.

But the matter was resolved, with FIFA informing Gor that all files at its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland were officially closed.

Following the lifting of the ban, Gor Mahia were able to sign the Ugandan pair of Patrick Kaddu and Emery Bayisenge, as well as Enock Wanyama and Sylvester Owino from Kariobangi Sharks and Kakamega Homeboyz respectively.

 “I believe we can retain the title next season. The squad from last year is largely the same as this year’s albeit with few additions. You can see the quality within the squad and the competition for places is healthy. I am sure we will challenge and possibly win it again next season.”