K’Ogalo’s mission impossible
Barry Silah and Charles Thuku
As Gor Mahia readies themselves to wipe out an almost impossible 6-0 deficit against CR Belouizdad of Algeria in the return Africa Champions League match at Nyayo National Stadium today, the local giants already have a set back as they will be without four of their key players in a match needing miracles for them to progress to the next level of the competition.
The multiple league champions will be without the services of lethal goal getters Tito Okello, Benson Omalla and Nicholas Kipkurui. They will also miss services of utility player Bernard Ondiek.
Okello who has a hamstring injury is also treating malaria while Omalla who had a calf injury may not be available for K’Ogallo for some time as he returns to Kisumu Day for his final year in High School and Kipkurui who has always had a lucky charm in continental fixtures, has been Absent Without Official Leave (AWOL) as he is believed to be trying to force a move to premier league side Bandari.
Ondiek is nursing a long term injury and goalkeeper Levis Opiyo is not available. The team has, however, been boosted by the return of skipper Kenneth Muguna who missed the first leg fixture due to rib injury.
In the absence of three strikers, Gor stand in coach Sammy ‘Pamzo’ Omollo has been left with only the option of starting the match with untested Dickson Raila and Jules Ulimwengu who has mostly been used as a substitute.
Pamzo may also decide to use Samuel Onyango or Clifton Miheso as false number nines.
“We are going to enjoy ourselves in the match, we don’t have any pressure at all,” said a confident Omollo yesterday.
Kenyans may be saddened to learn that this is not the first massacre a local club has suffered at the hands of North African opposition.
Incidentally, Gor’s sworn rivals AFC Leopards also fell 6-0 to Egyptian giants Al Ahly in the first leg of the second round of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champion Cup in Cairo in 1986.
The defeat was too embarrassing to Ingwe fans and obviously, it had to take miracles of sorts for the Kenyan emissaries to advance to the next round but they did exit the tournament with a measure of respect.
Leopards had to look for a win in the return match in Kakamega in every possible way to appease their fans but it was too little too late as they edged the Egyptians 2-1 at Bukhungu Stadium to bow out on a 6-1 aggregate.
Such inexplicable defeats have come to haunt a Kenyan club and given the margin in which Gor lost to the Algerians away, it’s unthinkable for them to proceed in the money spinning Africa competition.
It can be recalled that a decade ago, Gor lost 6-0 on aggregate (5-0 and 1-0) to Rwanda Patriotic Army in the Confederation Cup which was the second biggest debacle.
As things stand, the best Gor can do in the reverse fixture against CR Belouizdad is to conjure a win, however slim just like Leopards, to bow out honorably and accept to be relegated to the CAF Cup knock-out stage.
Meanwhile, according to a communique from Football Kenya Federation (FKF), no fans will be allowed at the match venue and only 30 accredited journalists shall be allowed to access the stadium In conformance to strict guidelines by CAF to limit the spread of the Coronavirus. only 30
It further indicated that only five photographers will be allowed at the pitch side, and will be required to be Covid-19 compliant.
The test should have been done within the last 72 hrs. They will also need to have their CAF/FKF branded bibs on.