‘Historic!’ Gor hailed after CAF Confed Cup magic
- Gor Mahia FC’s historic triumph over Supersport United triggered an outpouring of plaudits as they became the first Kenyan club to reach the group stage of a CAF competition
- The record Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions edged out Supersport 2-2 on aggregate despite a 2-1 defeat in Wednesday’s return leg play-off match in Pretoria, South Africa
Gor Mahia FC’s historic triumph over Supersport United triggered an outpouring of plaudits as they became the first Kenyan club to reach the group stage of a CAF competition.
The record Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions edged out Supersport 2-2 on aggregate despite a 2-1 defeat in Wednesday’s return leg play-off match in Pretoria, South Africa.
Captain Harun Shakava had put the ball into his net on the hour to set leave the tie 1-1 on aggregate, but Francis Kahata levelled almost immediately to restore Gor’s advantage.
Forward Thabo Mnyamane put the hosts ahead again on 68 minutes to set up a tense finale at the Lucas Moripe Stadium, but Gor held on to eliminate the PSL side on away goal rule.
The Sports Ministry, club legends, Football Kenya Federation (FKF) and local fans all paid their tributes with Nairobi County Governor Mike Sonko – who had bailed the team out when their trip to South Africa had been a doubt – pledging more support.
“Naskia Gor Mahia are through to the group stages of the CAF confederation Cup. Congratulations #Sirkal and I will continue to offer my support to the team until tubebe hii Cup. @OfficialGMFC,” the Nairobi boss tweeted.
“They have repaid that favour,” Gor legend Tobias ‘Jua Kali’ Ocholla told Citizen Digital on Thursday as he savoured the victory.
The retired defender praised the team for remaining focused on the job at hand when logistical challenges and financial constraints had threatened to break down their will.
A visa hitch due to work permit complications for Jacques Tuyisenge and Ephrem Guikan had meant Gor had only one out and out striker available to face Supersport, leaving a considerable dent on team’s hope.
Even more so because Tuyisenge had been the hero a fortnight ago when he scored from the spot at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos to give head coach Dylan Kerr’s charges a 1-0 first leg advantage.
“Despite their ups and downs I think they have remained very steadfast. This is a team that needed a good Samaritan to pay for their travel and for me it’s the best way to show they are thankful.
“Now more people will want to help,” Ocholla who played at right back for the K’Ogalo between 1986 and ’96 said.
He reserved special praise for Kahata who scored the away goal that ultimately proved vital in helping see Supersport off.
“He’s been brilliant throughout and that has come with a lot of hard work. He is a very technical player and I think the coach (Kerr) has added something new to his game; he likes to give confidence to his players.
“Kahata was not even going to South Africa but I think it was the intervention of God that he got his passport and went on to score the goal that propelled Gor to the group stage,” Ocholla underscored.
The former Kenyan international added there is no limit as to how far beyond the group stages Gor can keep progressing following Wednesday’s historic feat, and challenged them to go all out for the ultimate prize.
“The money they will get at every new stage should be a motivation but they have to keep believing in themselves because they have the right quality. Sometimes you can see they’re too good for the KPL and it also tells you a bit about their depth.
“I believe that technical bench has worked so well with the rotation and keeping them fit and hungry,” Ocholla, who turned out for the Harambee Stars between 1987 and 1994, offered.
He stated Gor’s stars will now be on the radar of scouts from top leagues Europe, giving players the opportunity to realize their dream of big-money moves abroad.
“They will be selling the KPL, Gor and themselves because at this stage you are followed by scouts from all over.”
Another Gor legend and former skipper Austin Oduor Origi lauded the team for the landmark victory, saying the trickledown effect is a more competitive KPL.
“Now other teams know it can be done. We need to encourage them to go to the highest level possible in order to increase the quality of the KPL and even national team because they are competing against the best.
“What Gor have done is commendable because they have put Kenya back to a map where we have been out for a very long time. It’s a challenge for those behind them in the KPL to work hard,” the iconic captain who led Gor and the national team through their best ever runs at continental level said.
Sports PS, Ambassador Peter Kaberia said the Government will fete Gor for their achievement and reiterated they are working to complete the renovations of the Kasarani and Nyayo National Stadiums.
Former FKF president Sam Nyamweya joined in hailing Gor for the victory, saying in a statement that the fact they pulled it off under the circumstances made it truly worth celebrating.
“This is a demonstration that with better support, administration, planning and facilitation, Kenyan clubs and indeed Kenyan football teams can defy the form book and claim stake on African football high table.
“For me as an advocate and champion of community football clubs, this is a proud moment for me and all those who subscribe to the philosophy that the game will grow faster and further if the communities fully own the football clubs.
“I salute Coach Dylan Kerr for getting his tactics right and the boys for their discipline and fidelity to the game plan as instructed by their coach. I also thank H.E. Mike Sonko the Governor for Nairobi County for securing Air tickets for the team,” Nyamweya wrote.
“In wishing them the very best in Saturday’s group stage draw, may I commit that I will offer by full support to the team the very best and urge all supporters to rally behind their club to propel it to the next level.”
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