Uphill task for Gor after thrashing by USM Alger in CAF League
Kenyan champions Gor Mahia face a herculean task of surmounting Algerian club USM Alger from the driving seat to realise their dream of reaching the CAF Champions League group stage for the first time ever.
This was after USM Alger put one foot into the group stage with a 4-1 mauling of K’Ogalo in Blida, Algeria on Sunday night, leaving the Kenyan club needing to score three goals without reply in Nairobi when they host the second leg in a fortnight.
Gor displayed one of their best games away from home despite the huge loss, possessing well and attacking gutsily only to be punished from simple mistakes.
After riding out the first wave of attacks from the hosts which saw goalkeeper David Mapigano save from close range.
K’Ogalo were stung in the 15th minute from a lapse at the back that left Mohamed Mefta unmarked when effervescent winger Muaid Elafi floated a cross to the back post.
The winger had sufficient time to tame the cross and whip in a bullet of a shot past Mapigano in to open the scores.
Gor stabilised and enjoyed a good spell but Mapigano was called into action again in the 21st minute and he responded with admirable reflex to keep K’Ogalo in the game with a fine save.
Gor’s first attempt on target came after 26 minutes, Nicholas Kipkirui directing Boniface Omondi’s cross towards the goal but the effort was not lethal enough and was easily gathered by the keeper.
Then came two chaotic final minutes of the first half when referee Papa Gassama awarded the hosts a soft penalty which Mefta dispatched for USM Alger’s second.
One minute later, K’Ogalo were three goals down, Mapigano beaten by a clever shot directed to his far post by danger man Benchaa who was allowed too much time and space to pick his spot. Gor returned from halftime with some urgency which bore fruit.
A barrage of attacks on their hosts set centre-back Charles Momanyi on the path to score but his effort rebounded off the arm of a USM Alger player and Gassama awarded Gor a penalty in the 55th minute which skipper Kenneth Muguna scored.
With 15 minutes left, Benchaa tapped into an empty net after a free-kick, floated above the wall and off the upright, found the number nine unmarked in the box.
K’Ogalo rode out the remaining minutes knowing they have no option other than to score three without reply in Nairobi for a lifeline in the Champions League.