Gor miss chances, draw with Esperance


Gor players George 'Blackberry' Odhiambo9Right) and Godfrey Walusimbi being challenged by an Esperance marker ...
Gor players George 'Blackberry' Odhiambo9Right) and Godfrey Walusimbi being challenged by an Esperance marker at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos/PHOTO/Stafford Ondego/Sportpicha

In Summary

  • Gor Mahia have an uphill task in the second leg of their CAF Champions League clash with Tunisia giants Esperance.
  • An encounter full of emotions it was, with Gor missing glorious chances in the first stanza they well commanded.
  • The unyielding battle continued and Kerr had to throw Bernard Ondieki and Samuel Onyango into the fray, withdrawing Philemon Otieno and a worn out Odhiambo respectively.

Kenyan record league champions Gor Mahia have an uphill task in the second leg of their CAF Champions League clash with Tunisia giants Esperance, after registering a barren stalemate in the first leg played at the Kenyatta stadium, Machakos on Wednesday.

An encounter full of emotions it was, with Gor missing glorious chances in the first stanza they well commanded.

A rare occurrence saw Godfrey Walusimbi and Haythen Jovini burst the ball in the first minute, after a fierce contest near Gor’s goalmouth.

 

Gor’s goalie Boniface Oluoch reacts during their Caf Champions League match at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos county on March 07, 2018. Photo/Stafford Ondego/Sportpicha.

Meddie Kagere’s header flew over the crossbar in the eighth, after connecting Francis Kahata’s cross who had skillfully dodged past Khalil Chanan.

Three minutes later, miscommunication between Kahata and Kagere wasted the most promising chance till then, the former’s through pass missing the latter’s fully stretched leg by inches.

Jacques Tuyisenge would shortly land on a neat cross across the goal from  Kahata, only to rattle the woodwork with a powerful shot, with the Esperance custodian Noel Ben Shariffa well beaten.

Gor trio of Kagere, Tuyisenge and Kahata were causing the 2011  Caf champions constant trouble on their goal. In the 21st minute, Kahata danced around Chanan, to set up Kagere in the box, whose right foot shot forced Shariffa to a reflex dive to punch it out for a corner.

A minute later, Tuyisenge’s attempt was parried out by the hardworking Shariffa, with K’Ogalo fans on their feet in anticipation of what appeared to be an outright goal. A close shave it was, and Kagere took time to come to terms with the reality the chance was gone.

Gor Mahia FC fans cheer their team against Esperance of Tunisia during their Caf Champions League match at the Kenyatta stadium in Machakos county on March 07, 2018. Photo/Stafford Ondego/Sportpicha.

By the 25th minute, display by the Dylan Kerr coached side had charged the fans, though few for the mouthwatering clash, whose encouraging songs and cheers were electrifying.

Notably, Machakos County Governor  Alfred Mutua, and his Nyeri counterpart Mutahi Kahiga, rose to encourage the fans to cheer on more, gesturing at the parked VIP stand enthusiastically.

Realising the attacking mentality Gor had in the match, the entire Esperance army retreated to guard their goal leaving only Jovini and Yossef Blaili upfront, seeking to hit Gor on counter attack.

In the 37th, Joash Onyango’s cross-cum-shot rubbed the side netting with the keeper off his place, with a diving Kagere missing narrowly ending up in the net himself.

Onyango had denied Blaili who had been released open by Foscent Coulibaly from the middle with rest of defenders falling in the counter attack trap, before advancing fast to execute his attempt.

The last chance of the first stanza fell to Kahata from George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo’s cross, but his poorly finished header was easy for Shariffa to collect.

Five corners to Gor’s credit going to the break and close attempts was all the home fans could count, as Esperance took stock of superb defending making no shot on target at the bumby and slightly muddy surface.

Chamsedine Dhaouadi (R) of Esperance of Tunisia tackle contest Medie Kagere of Gor Mahia FC during their Caf Champions League match at the Kenyatta stadium in Machakos county on March 07, 2018. The match ended 0-0. Photo/Stafford Ondego/Sportpicha

At resumption, Esperance brought on Annis Ben Hijra for Blaili, followed by Bilel Nestri, seeking to exert a meaningful attack.

Hijra needed only a minute on the pitch to test Gor’s goalkeeper Boniface Oluoch, heading a loose ball to the extreme left corner that he had tip off for a corner.

The encounter was soon balanced, both sides knocking interchangeably on the opposite goals.

As the visitors tossed the last dice by introducing Maher Ben Shaieri for Jovini in the 70th, Gor brought on Kelvin Omondi for Kahata, who had immensely lost his initial rhythm.

The unyielding battle continued and Kerr had to throw Bernard Ondieki and Samuel Onyango into the fray, withdrawing Philemon Otieno and a worn out Odhiambo respectively.

In the 85th, Ondieki almost grabbed one for Gor with a 30-yard shot, only to miss narrowly to the disappointment of eager fans.
The determined North Africans appeared comfortable with the stalemate, employing time wastage tactics as the clock ticked fast to full time, and knocking around the ball in the midfield to thwart opponent’s quick moves.
The result means any draw of goals in the second leg (March 17 in Tunis) will send K’Ogalo in the second round of the competition.

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Story By Jacob Icia
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