NAIROBI, Kenya, March 3 – Hope springs eternal for Gor Mahia as they prepare to travel for the second leg of their CAF Champions League first round tie against Esperance de Tunis this weekend trailing 2-3 from the opening home tie on Saturday.
With most expecting the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions to exit the competition, K’Ogalo coach Bobby Williamson insists all is not lost and they will give it a good go in Tunisia.
“We played an entertaining match over the weekend but unfortunately being on the wrong end we suffered the defeat even after creating many chances that we failed to score.
“We hope to net three goals and keep a clean sheet when we head for the return leg but it will not be easy because Esperance is a very good and experienced team, so it will be a tall order,” the former Uganda Cranes tactician stated.
K’Ogalo who were under pressure to emulate the class of 87’ that beat Esperance in the final of the Cup Winners Cup gained confidence after notching the opener but could not sustain the lead as the visitors equalised 10 minutes later.
Gor have to go back to the drawing board and rectify their mistakes especially in defence that was exposed by the two-time Champions League winners with left back Musa Mohamed, the chief culprit in the match that saw the visitors capitalize on his flank to net all three goals.
Williamson, blamed the loss due on the absence of Harambee Stars dependable defender David ‘Calabar’ Owino, who was suspended after picking a red card in their preliminary return leg round against Gabonese side US Bitam.
“Owino is a great experienced player and he could have helped a lot during this match since Israel Emuge, is not yet fully fit and he lacked experience to hold on the position.”
Skipper Jerim Onyango, who was nick named ‘King Jerry’ failed to replicate his starring role in the preliminary round in Gabon where he led his side to a 4-2 spot-kick victory over US Bitam after stopping four penalties (two in regulation time and the same in the shoot-out) following a 1-1 stalemate on aggregate.
The captain was at fault for the second goal.
The league champions need at least to beat the North Africans 2-0 for a 4-3 aggregate win in order to advance to the second round and will be boosted by the return of the imposing Owino.
K’Ogalo have been exempted from their KPL fixture to allow them prepare for the return leg scheduled for March 8.
Gor will need to up their game since they will once again be facing an experienced side that has 10 players who feature in the Tunisian national team at their home turf.
Esperance are currently leading their domestic league on 47 points, nine ahead of CAF Confederations Cup reigning champions Club Sportif Sfaxien while Gor are placed third in the KPL on six after winning their two matches thus far.