Bandari’s late rally fails to save Confed Cup dream
Gotv Shield winners, Bandari FC are out of the CAF Confederations Cup despite rallying from behind to hold Congolese side St. Eloi Lupopo to a 1-1 draw in Nairobi on Sunday.
Trailing 2-0 from the away leg in Lumbumbashi, the Kenyan cup champions fell behind to a Makambo Maolongi goal in the first half but deep into stoppage time with elimination confirmed, Edwin Lavatsa, levelled from the spot to add some dignity to their 3-1 loss on aggregate.
Once again, an inquest into the quality of Kenya’s top flight football and organisation will be launched after Bandari followed league champions, Gor Mahia FC, who were sent parking from the CAF Champions League also 3-1on aggregate, in bowing out of continental action in the preliminary round of actions.
Playing at Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium, Bandari FC had 45 fans sponsored by betting firm, SportPesa travel from their Mombasa base to the capital in an effort to rouse a fightback from the dockers.
The supporters who arrived on match day morning did their all to rouse their side but Twahir Muhiddin’s side have themselves to blame for spurning a number of glorious chances to score in regulation time.
“We did not exit in shame. We have tried as hard as we could and they had the edge over us because their league is almost finishing and we have just come from pre-season and played only two games of the new season.
“They had about eight months to prepare for this Cup and we were only getting started. They have better experience and understanding on the pitch than we do and I’ve always insisted our federation should change our calender to confirm to the international calender.
“This situation will always be the same year in, year out, changing the calender is our only hope of competing well with continental clubs,” Muhiddin, a former national team Harambee Stars coach said post-match.
“We are happy because we came came sure we would have a difficult match but we had better luck than Bandari to qualify after scoring twice at home. Our aim was to come here and get a goal to put them under pressure and it happened.
“Bandari’s players needed more experience together to get over a team like us. St. Eloi Lupopo is a big team used to continental action and we did not have five injured players. Kenyan football used to be on top in days past but the level has gone down,” his opposite number, Raul Shungu, stated.
Bandari held their own against their vastly experienced opponents and got off with their tails up after Lavatsa found himself with a clear chance to pass the ball to Anthony Kimani but goal keeper Tibolia Kileba rushed out to put out the danger.
Then George Abege collected a loose ball inside the box but his low drive was repelled by Lupopo’s defence inside the opening seven minutes of a pacy start from the Shield winners.
The homeside who were playing away from their Mbaraki Stadium base since it is not fit to host CAF matches fashioned two more scoring chances, with Abege curling the better opportunity towards goal only for Kilebela, to hold on to the ball with ease.
Lupopo responded with a dangerous direct free-kick but Joseph Okoth in the Bandari goal punched it out for a fruitless corner before midfield lynchpin Anthony Kimani sent his straight to the wall soon after when he had sight of the goal.
However, the visitors got their crucial breakthrough in the 22nd when Maolongi’smlow drive beat Okoth for the opening goal leaving the hosts needing the Herculean task of scoring four to progress.
Felly Mulumba then found himself with Kilebela to beat but sent his shot at the keeper before his teammate Edwin Wafula was booked in the 38th as the teams went into the break with Lupopo enjoying a 1-0 lead for the healthy 3-0 advantage on aggregate.
Muhiddin then hauled in former SportPesa Premier League top scorer, Dan Sserunkuma into the fray and he had an open chance to cut the deficit but his looping finish went just wide.
There was late drama when Bandari were awarded a penalty in third minute of added time when Poso Mayenge handled inside the box and Lavatsa stepped up to level the tie at 1-1 but it was all too late.
“He came on and added danger to our attack but I could not start him because it would have given defenders an easier task of holding him. Sserunkuma is more effective when running at a tired defence,” Muhiddin explained the reason behind bringing on his most potent attacking weapon mid into the second half.
Report by Abdi Rizack and Mkala wa Mwambodze
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