Reality check for champions Gor Mahia as they hit dead end

Monday, September 30th, 2019 12:00 |
Gor Mahia players Nicholas Kipkurui, Wellingtone Ochieng and Tobias Otieno during a water break in their CAF Champions League first round return match against USM Alger of Algeria at Kasarani Stadium yesterday. Photo/PD/DAVID NDOLO

Kenyan champions Gor Mahia have been weighed and found wanting once more in the continent’s elite club competition as evidenced by the 2-0 home loss to USM Alger of Algeria at Kasarani Stadium.

The Kenyan club consequently crashed out of the top-tier CAF Champions League on a 6-1 aggregate score and forfeited the Sh54 million on offer. 

Gor possessed more of the ball and created a myriad of chances but lacked the cutting edge needed to crush a seasoned continental participant like USM Alger.

Naive Gor

K’Ogalo will for the third year running step down to the second tier CAF Confederation Cup where they will know their next opponent on Wednesday when the CAF Inter Clubs Committee conducts the draw for group stage play-offs.

Gor were perhaps naively over enthusiastic in their quest to overturn the 4-1 score line suffered a fortnight ago in Algeria. 

Buoyed by a craving fan base and courted by the country’s second largest beer manufacturers Keroche Breweries, Gor got off on the wrong footing, conceding in the fourth and 15th minutes of their home fixture to all but bid the Champions League farewell.

Right-back Wellington Ochieng conceded a needless throw in four minutes into the match and the visitors capitalised on their height advantage to poke home via a header. 

Missed chances

Stunned by the early setback, Gor poured forward in search of a route back but suffered more damage when against the run of play, USM Alger pounced with a quick counter attack to double their lead.

The goal left K’Ogalo needing to score six against the Algerian champions to proceed into Champions League group stage which proved too much. 

Nicholas Kipkirui missed glorious opportunities to ease the pressure, first fluffing a one-on-one with USM Alger goalkeeper Smail Manouri then skying what ought to have been a simple tap in. 

Dickson Ambundo also failed to reduce the deficit as Wellington Ochieng missed with close headers.

Steven Polack made an early change in the second half, Ernest Wendo preferred for the tiring Ambundo, a change that pushed Lawrence Juma to the wing.

K’Ogalo exerted more dominance after the change without breaking their visitors who looked solid from the start of the match to the end. 

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