Gor bosses, FKF and KPL must take blame should Caf Cup dream botch
- Contrary to fans expectations, K'Ogalo failed to sparkle and bitterly bowed to Rayon making their would be last group match excursion in Algiers against USM a must win on September 29, a Herculean task by all standards, but achievable after all.
- Ever optimistic Kerr has pledged to fight for a win or at least a draw in Algeria, saying his side cannot afford to ruin a so far good season.
- Gor will be sure of pocketing Ksh.35 million by sealing a last eight spot in Cup,but if this dream is broken, Gor's leadership led by it's chairman Ambrose Rachier, KPL and FKF must provide answers to the football mad nation hurting from the mismanagement of Gor's campaign and shoulder the blame.
Jacob Icia, Citizen Digital’s Chief Football Reporter
The ever enthusiastic Gor Mahia fans walked out of the Kenya’ sports cathedral, the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani crestfallen on Sunday night as Rayon Sports complicated the CAF- Confederations Cup quarter final race with 2-1 victory over the hosts.
As if the dark surroundings of the Kasarani Stadium were signifying the heavy dark cloud that hang over Gor who by all standards are not used to such a result at least this season, the usual cacophony that characterises the Green Army’s bullish exit from the stadium was loudly absent.
Swallowing pride it is called, forcibly albeit, thus the issues running through their minds could only be expressed by silence, and a loud one for that matter!
Before the kick-off, the record Kenyan champions needed just a point to seal their spot in the last eight of the CAF -Confederations Cup. Eight points to their credit from two wins (over Tanzania’s Yanga) and draws against the Rwandan side, and USM Algers, Gor had turned the group campaign, snatching the favourites tag from USM only to blow it up at the deck!
Contrary to fans expectations, K’Ogalo failed to sparkle and bitterly bowed to Rayon making their would be last group match excursion in Algiers against USM a must win on September 29, a Herculean task by all standards, but achievable after all!
The win hauled Rayon’s points tally to six, as Yanga condemned USM to a similar defeat in Dar es Salaam, further convoluting a difficult scenario for Gor.
Had USM won against the justifiably whipping boys of the group,Yanga, Gor would have marched to Algiers with a ray of hope that the result would be inconsequential to the North Africans as they would have already qualified.
But now, it’s a full blown out war and the daggers are already sharpened, worryingly in a hostile ground in north Africa as each of the two sides need to win the clash to be sure of a spot in the quarters.
Rayon, having proved it’s mettle in Nairobi, and by all standards, are expected to whip Yanga at the Nyamirambo Stadium in Kigali, the venue of their 1-1 draw with K’Ogalo in May.
In the remotest of scenarios, Gor can still qualify for the quarters even if they lose in Algiers, assuming Yanga does them the favour of holding Rayon in Kigali.
However, should Gor lose in Algiers and Rayon win at home, they will have snatched the group’s runners-up ticket from K’Ogalo right at the death!
Yanga, who are mathematically out (with four points only), could be of help to Gor Mahia and USM if they win or draw in Kigali, they would limit Rayons points to only six (in case of a win) and seven if they end up in a stalemate.
Debate on what went wrong is still rife on the lips of stakeholders, the hard question being how the Dylan Kerr coached side can conquer USM away and restore their dimming continental hopes.
With two Kenyan Premier League (KPL) matches to honour in under nine days before flying to Algeria, the puzzle gets even more complex as fatigue was pointed out as major undoing for the Kenyan giants on Sunday.
“We are tired, I’ve been saying it. My players have done us proud and the season has been good, but it reaches a point where you can’t hold it anymore. Ten matches within August was going to be a tall order knowing the long season we have had,” the Briton coach who has consistently mourned and made his case to the KPL and FKF honchos who are unfortunately neither keen on the welfare nor the progress of the club in the competitions but keen on massaging their egos in their never ending fights on should have the last call on matters football,said.
“When we could do nothing about it especially on my end I had to face it head on. It is difficult for our fans and even players to take, but this is football…,” a disappointed Kerr said after the match.
The Briton has been complaining about the fixture congestion, ever since Gor started their continental assignment in the Champions League before relegation to the Cup.
After overcoming Vegetarianos of Equatorial Guinea in the preliminaries, Gor faced a tough Esperance of Tunisia whom they fell to 1-0 away to Tunis after a home barren stalemate.
Kerr did not hide his dismay even then, in the way KPL Limited spaced matches for them with the national duty at hand.
“We are flying the national flag in this competition, it is no longer a Gor Mahia affair anymore. We expect everyone behind us including the federation and the league running body. Unfortunately my players are overworked, and cannot give their best when the situation is this way,” said Kerr then, before the Champions League exit.
As if his cry was falling on deaf ears, the trend continued with the club being engaged in KPL, Cecafa Club Championship, Super Cup, Hull City Challenge, the Football Kenya Federation Shield and the CAF Cup.
Notably, even with all the competitions, Kerr somehow has faired well especially in KPL losing only once (to Bandari). In fact, Gor are just two wins away from the 17th national title.
K’Ogalo are still chasing the Shield , with an Everton trip in waiting.
Reflecting on their long journey this season, K’Ogalo had to play six matches in 15 days during Cecafa Club Championship in Tanzania.
The Kerr side endured a tiring week when they took on USMA at home, as they had just two days to rest after hosting Hull City.
The Hull match, with all the hype, was energy sucking and the impact was evident in the USMA clash.
The question of priorities was again raised, and the difference in the qualification campaign could have been made here, according to Kerr.
He then said: “We gave our best, USMA is a very strong side but my players showed how good they are. Playing against Hull City and without almost no break coming to this was a huge task. We should have won, and made a huge difference because home matches matter a lot in these competitions, but you could see they were tired…” offered Kerr after the draw.
With stakeholders blaming KPL, FKF and Gor officials for their failure to ease the congestion, the last opportunity to respond to the coach and his playing unit is here.
A Sofapaka clash before locking horns with Kariobangi Sharks could mean a weary Gor travelling to Algiers for the Group D finale.
Having traced the rain , injuries have also crippled Gor’s procession to the history making stage that may never be realised as things now stand.
On Sunday, a weak attacking unit of unfit Jacques Tuyisenge and and unfamiliar Francis Mustapha was easily dealt with by the Rayon defence.
With Ivorian striker Ephrem Guikan injured in the backdrop of Medie Kagere exit to Tanzania’s Simba in June, Kerr’s options were limited.
Hardworking Ugandan Godfrey Walusimbi having ditched the side left a gap in the defence, that despite Kerr’s statement after the match that he was not thinking about him anymore, the need for a proper replacement was emphasized by the result. How he left baffles every right-thinking member of the football society when he had a running contract with the club.
Recovering Wellington Ochieng was well exposed at the back and bore the first goal for Rayon, and a recovering Karim Nizigiyama could only watch as his department failed.
A goalkeeping blunder by Shaban Odhoji contributed too, and by the look of things neither him nor Kerr’s number one Boniface Oluoch can guarantee a hundred percent day in office under pressure.This department has been weak, the error long cited, but the office in it’s usual casual and haphazard way of doing things chose not to act hoping that lady-luck will ride the team to the money-minting quarters stage, and semis, and probably the grand final.How deceivable can that be?!
The creativity of free-flowing Francis Kahata was choked by the Rayon midfield, with Earnest Wendo’s legs helping nothing as K’Ogalo fell.
Ever optimistic Kerr has pledged to fight for a win or at least a draw in Algeria, saying his side cannot afford to ruin a so far good season.
“We have no choice, we have to fight and do things the way we have been doing before. We will need to overcome the challenge and save the so far fantastic season. We are near it though quite far,” Kerr told.
Gor will be sure of pocketing Ksh.35 million by sealing a last eight spot in Cup,but if this dream is broken, Gor’s leadership led by it’s chairman Ambrose Rachier, KPL and FKF must provide answers to the football mad nation hurting from the mismanagement of Gor’s campaign and shoulder the blame.
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