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Limping Gor Mahia gear up for clash with RS Berkane

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Gor Mahia is gearing up to continue with their continental football campaign on Sunday 7th when they host Moroccan side RS Berkane.

Gor has already made history by becoming the first Kenyan team to qualify for the Confed Cup quarter-finals making it to the semis will help them set a record that will be hard to beat. The last time K’Ogalo got that far was in 1992 CAF Champions League qualifiers when they won the first and second rounds but failed to get past the quarter-final stage.

The 17-time Kenyan champions have had a rather dramatic preparation period for this fixture having experienced a few setbacks. Ever since Gor dramatically won against Angola’s Petro de Luanda at Kasarani, the odds have been forever against them.

In their last group match, K’Ogalo literally gave their everything to get the win including a few of their first team players. The match saw Gor fight for a place in the last 8 so hard that they picked two red cards in the match. The coach, Hassan Oktay was also sent off the pitch because he seemed to question almost every decision the match officials made against his team.

It was after that match that Gor were dealt their first blow. At the time, they had not known who their opponents were yet but they already knew they will play the first leg of the quarterfinals without some crucial first team players. Captain Harun Shakava leads the absentees from the terraces with senior players like Ernest Wendo, Sheffik Batambuze and Jacques Tuyisenge. Goalie Fredrick Odhiambo was initially feared to miss the match but Gor later confirmed that he is available for selection.

Oktay has also admitted that he knows nothing about their opponents. Players get directions and tactics from coaches because the coach looks at the game from a different angle. When playing against a team, it is important for the coach to have done his homework about the opponents before the match. When it had been confirmed that RS Berkane will play Gor Mahia, Oktay admitted that he does not know anything about the club. Oktay said he had to call friends from Morocco to ask for any information about the Morrocan club.

Now that Oktay has been banned from the dugout for the match by Confederation of African Football (CAF), he should have already done all the research by now. Oktay has no room to study the team during the match as his input is only for the preparations and not for the match.

Getting a stadium to host the match was also a difficult task for K’Ogalo. The only stadium they had been using for all their group stage matches was not initially available. K’Ogalo were using the Moi International Sports Stadium Kasarani for their matches, a stadium that had been booked for a Kenya Association of Manufacturers expo for seven days, including on the very day Gor plays RS Berkane.

It took the Cabinet Minister for Sports and Culture Amina Mohammed to intervene for K’Ogalo to be given the stadium. The expo has since been cut short and ends on Saturday to allow Gor to play their home quarter-final fixture at the venue. Some credit deserves to be given to K’Ogalo fans who complained about it on social media before Mohammed intervened.

On confirming the use of the stadium, the Sports CS urged Kenyans to turn up in large numbers in support of Gor Mahia. The CS said support from Kenyans is key in helping Gor overcome their opponents. She is expected to attend the match.

Even though Gor was able to secure the stadium for the match, they have not been able to train at the same stadium. Prior to home matches, K’Ogalo players always trained at Kasarani in the morning before the official match day. This time they have not been able to do so because of the ongoing expo.

Read: Ruto’s delight as ODM loses in Ugenya, Embakasi South

With all these shortcomings ahead of the fixture, will Gor overcome all odds to win? Judging on their previous matches in the Confed Cup, K’Ogalo is less likely to win at Morrocco so they have to give their all in Sunday’s match.

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Kevin Namunwa
Kevin Namunwahttp://www.businesstoday.co.ke
Kevin Namunwa is a senior reporter for Business Today. Email at [email protected].
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