Kenyan sides with mountains to climb in continental assignments after poor first legs

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019 06:13 |
Tobias Otieno of Gor Mahia beats William Luezi of Mutema Pembe to the ball during their CAF Confederation Cup match at Kasarani Stadium on Sunday. PD/PHILIP KAMAKYA

That Central and West African teams have invariably outsmarted their Kenyan counterparts in continental club football competitions is not in doubt.

Gor Mahia and Bandari are Kenya’s  emissaries in the 2019 CAF Confederation Cup playoffs. Statistics were there for all to see on Sunday when they faced Democratic Republic of Congo’s Daring Club Motema Pembe and Horoya Conakry of Guinea respectively in the first leg matches, thus making their work difficult in reverse fixtures. 

Gor will be walking on egg-shells in the return match against gritty Motema Pembe who forced the Kenyan champions to a 1-1 draw at Kasarani Stadium. 

Like Gor, chances of Bandari making to the lucrative group stage of the competition suffered a blow after they went down 4-2 to Horoya in a six-goal thriller the same day in Guinea capital, Conakry.

Incidentally, it was Motema Pembe who prevailed over Kenya Breweries (now Tusker) in the final of the Africa Cup Winners Cup in 1994, seven years after another Congolese team FC Kalamu bundled out AFC Leopards 4-2 on aggregate in the second round of the Champions Cup.

It can also be recalled that in 1985, Leopards reached the semi-finals of the event before they were eliminated by West African outfit Leventis United of Nigeria.

As for Bandari, in as much as they are not big-timers in such competitions, their elimination by central African side St Eloi Lupopo of DRC Congo in the preliminary round of CAF Confederation three years ago lends credence to the fact that Kenyan teams have a lot to do to break the jinx.

Against DC Motema Pembe, Gor looked lethargic although they could have done well to bury the few chances that came their way and had they done that, they would be travelling to Kinshasa for the decider with settled nerves.

There was naivety on Nicholas Kipkirui from whom much was expected while Dickson Ambundo and Boniface Omondi also lacked bite to trouble the visitors backline.

On the flipside, goalkeeper David Mapigano saved a penalty by Motema’s Vinny Kombe and the obvious is that had it gone in, it would have turned things from bad to worse for K’Ogalo.

The result means that Gor will need to win 1-0 in Kinshasa to advance while Motema have the easiest of mountains to climb as they can afford a goalless draw and make it through on the strength of the away goal.

Bandari will need to humble Horoya 2-0 in Nairobi on Saturday to eject the Guineans out of the cup.

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