NAIROBI, April 5 – The odds were stuck against them. The trip to Dolisie, Congo Brazzaville was fraught by a desperate fund raising exercise and on Sunday their exit from CAF Champions League was confirmed when AC Leopards beat Gor Mahia 1-0 to put them out of misery.
In truth, the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions will not rue another early exit from the high table of continental football as the country continues to lag behind as far as proper investment to compete effectively at that level is concerned.
K’Ogalo will not be embarrassed by a 2-0 aggregate exit if the build-up to the return leg in Congo is anything to go by having ceded a 1-0 advantage to their hosts in the home fixture a fortnight ago.
They needed a two-goal victory or to force the tie to penalties by a lone goal win for any chance of progression to the second round for the first time in three decades- that’s how far the most storied club in the land has fallen out of the continental radar.
Lightening struck twice for K’Ogalo when Cesair Gandze, the man who inflicted the damage at Nyayo by uncorking a screamer once again popped up with the winner on 38 minutes after heading home Nzamba Mombo cross.
In the absence of influential midfielder Khalid Aucho who was serving one match suspension for accumulating two yellow cards, head coach Frank Nutull started with George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo upfront as top scorer Ali Abondo partnered with Collins Okoth in the midfield.
The better part of the first half saw both sides locked to a barren draw with Gor custodian Boniface Oluoch rescuing a long range strike while on the other end defender Dikir Glay rattled the woodwork.
Nuttall introduced Ronald Omino for Odhiambo after half time but the hosts held on to advance to the second round where they will battle it out with either Egypt’s Smouha or Nigeria’s Enyimba.
Gor who bowed out at the same stage last season will now concentrate on their KPL title defence where they are unbeaten in three rounds and have two matches in hand.
They were in danger of missing the trip altogether and incurring stiffer sanctions than the 1-0 loss as the club organised a fundraiser to honour the tie.