Abbas Khamis 'Zamalek' Magongo

Mombasa’s Kenatco would deny AFC Leopards the 1983 league title by beating them 1-0 at the City Stadium. That shocking result coupled with Gor’s win at Nakuru against Scarlet, ensured Gor won the title. The late Abbas Magongo totally dis oriented leopards midfield that was then held together by Abdul Baraza, the late Haggai Mirakau and Wilberforce Mulamba.

Francis Kasiso proved the killer blow. However Magongo provided a lot of support for his strikers initiating attacks with daring dashes down the middle. Even though Kenatco were relegated, Magongo was outstanding throughout that season.

The late Charles Otieno who had broken Gor Mahia’s faithful by joining the then Kenya Breweries, the late coach Len Julian’s was in search of a midfield dynamo. The late Zangi Okello was the then team’s midfield mainstay. However Gor didn’t have to wait for long as new midfield sensation were purchased. George Onyango ‘’Fundi’’ and Abbas Magongo’s enterprising play quickly struck a chord with the fans. Though the team was defeated by Leopards in the CECAFA Club champions, they went on to win the league.

Seven months before they won the league, the team was involved in a fiasco that would later change the course of the club’s history. Pitted against Zamalek in the 1984 African Club Championship, second round, first leg, in Cairo, Zamalek found the going tough .Gor Mahia midfield and defense stood tall. Frustrations set in and the next insignificant thing from the Zamalek player was to dive into the ‘’ D’’ area upon realizing that he was not in the 12 yards box he rolled himself right into the box. This happened after Abbas Magongo had unintentional tripped a Zamalek player. The Sudanese ref was spotted chatting with Zamalek players in Arabic. To the amazement of Gor player’s the ref awarded them a dubious penalty. Chaos ensued and Magongo was red carded. The ref went to the dressing room and came back with a sling in his left hand and announced that he couldn’t continue with the game. Subsequently, Gor were banned not to participate in any continental event in a period of three years. Magongo’s nickname of Zamalek was coined after the Cairo incident.

In 1985 he was part of Gor Mahia’s squad to win the CECAFA Club Cup and the league title for the third consecutive season following the 1983 and 84 wins. His equalizing goal against leopards in the then KNFL league (Gor beat leopards 2-1) was ranked the best. A corner from the late Sammy Onyango was punched back to play by keeper Abbas his name sake Abbas Magongo chested the ball and realised a mid-air bomber the hit the roof of the net. Historically, it was the first time that Gor had defeated leopards at the Nyayo stadium. When the stadium was inaugurated in mid-1983, leopards and Gor squared off at the venue in 1984 with leopards winning both the first and the second leg league ties and also bagging the CECAFA Club Cup.

He earned a call up to the national team in 1986 where he featured for Stars between that season to 1992.In the 1986 second leg tie against leopards, of which leopards came from behind (0-2) to beat Gor 3-2, several Gor players including Bobby Ogolla,Zangi Okello and Abdalla Shebe were suspended for supposed sabotage.Magongo who was blacklisted was later exonerated from the crime.1987 was a golden year for Gor Mahia.That season they bagged the Mandela Cup, the league title and the Moi Golden Cup. Magongo played a pivotal role especially the second leg of the semi-finals match against Dragons of Benin and the final match against Esperance. In the Dragon’s match, with the score tied at 2-2 and Gor starring elimination following a 0-0 draw in Benin.Austin Odour absence in defence and Charles Otieno in midfield meant Magongo’s had to summon his experience, skill and patience to calm the tensed Gor midfield. That he did expertly as Gor cruised to a 3-2 win. During the final match against Esperance in Tunis, his combination with Charles Otieno and Nyangi Odembo in midfield left Esperance wandering aimlessly. He scored Gor’s opener chesting a dawo’s pass and rammed in a goal. In the return leg he executed the corner that Peter Dawo powered in that secured the Mandela Cup. In the game, Magongo marshalling the midfield, helped by Fundi Onyango and Charles Otieno completely destroyed Esperance rhythm roaming unchallenged in the midfield. 

In the belated Moi Golden Cup final against leopards that witnessed Gor secured a trebled, Magongo hours before the match had attended his wedding rehearsal. The 2-0 triumph over leopards was the perfect gift for his wedding that was to take place the following day. His bubbling form and class was devastatingly overlooked while Harambee Stars were camping in Brazil preparing for the 1988 AFCON that was hosted by Morocco. He was left out of the team together with Fundi Onyango and Pitalis Owuor because he was accused of dissent. On his defence, he claimed that the then coaches Chris Makokha and James Sianga were biased in their selection and were simply against Gor players.Though he wasn’t bitter he challenged the two coaches to come and watch him playing in the league and the continental matches.

Gor Mahia’s failure to retain the Mandela Cup heavily owed to the Absence of the three celebrated midfielders.Abbas Magongo,Charles Otieno and Zangi Okello. Congolese army side Inter club eliminated Gor 5-3 aggregate. Magongo had to attend to his mother’s funeral while Zangi and Charles Otieno were suspended because of undisciplined cases. However he would lead Gor to capture the 1988 Moi Golden Cup for good following the 86 and 87 wins. In that memorable game that they outwitted the brewers 1-0, he was man of the match. Was outstanding in offence, sprayed razor sharp passes with admirable precision and manned the midfield excellently.

After a brief professional stint in Oman he re-joined Gor briefly in 1994 before retiring. Magongo who was born in 1964, passed on in 2003 in Malindi exactly twenty years after he had made his mark on Kenyan Football.

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