NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 19 – Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia find themselves in a tricky situation in their hope of qualifying for the quarter finals of the CAF Confederations Cup for the first time ever after losing 2-1 at home to Rayon Sport of Rwanda on Sunday night at Kasarani.
Eric Rutanga’s sublime freekick in the 55th minute proved the winner as Gor quickly moved from qualification favorites to needing maximum points at all costs in their final game away to USM Alger to progress.
With the result, Rayon move to six points, two behind Gor and will need to beat Tanzania’s Yanga by a big margin in their final group match and hope Gor lose away to USM. If Gor pick a point at USM and Rayon beat Yanga in Kigali by a margin of less than four goals, then Gor will be through.
Gor came into the tie needing just a point to qualify for their first ever quarter final but it wasn’t just their day as Rayon travelled in hungrier to win.
Gor were stunned at home just two minutes into the tie when Bonfilscaleb Bimenyimana struck the opener with a neat connection inside the six yard box connecting to a Djabel Manishimwe cross from the right.
Manishimwe had managed to skip past Wellington Ochieng before looking up and citing the run of his teammate before sliding in a low cross.
Gor were exposed on the right side of defense with Ochieng yet to hit peak match fitness after returning from injury less than a month ago.
He had been slotted on the right side of defense with head coach Dylan Kerr switching Philemon Otieno to left back in the absence of want-away Godfrey Walusimbi.
But despite going down, Gor kept their search on and in the sixth minute, Kahata had an opportunity with a freekick from the right side but he curled it just over.
Rayon were threatening with their pace and trying to take advantage of the Gor backline’s lack of it.
Bimenyimana almost struck a second on the quarter hour mark when he rushed on to a long ball from keeper Abouba Bashunga, but Gor keeper Shabaan Odhoji was off his line to block though on collision with the lanky forward.
The danger man once again came to the fore of a Rayon attack in the 18th minute when he was sent through by Francois Mugisha, but his execution after shouldering away Joash Onyango let him down as he shot wide.
Gor did themselves a world of favor getting back on level terms after 23 minutes when Mustafa shielded away a challenge from Abdoul Rwatubyaye before gliding into the box from a Jack Tuyisenge through pass and sliding a low shot past Bashunga.
The sizeable crowd at the Moi Sports Centre Kasarani burst into celebration and the noise levels reached deafening crescendo as Gor put themselves right back in chance to make history.
The goal seemed to have awoken Gor’s fight as they played better, passed better and created spaces to run in.
But, the weak defense line was almost exposed again when Ange Mutsinzi picked up a cross that fizzled across the face of goal from the right but his shot was blocked by Onyango before keeper Odhoji picked up.
Gor continued to pile the pressure upfront, looking for that second goal that would inject some adrenaline in their feet. Four minutes to the break, Kahata came close with a header off a Goerge Odhiambo cross but it sailed straight to Bashunga.
After the break, Gor started brighter but were stunned 10 minutes in when Rutanga struck a curling freekick from the right, dipping at the back post with keeper Odhoji well beaten.
The Stadium was stunned to silence.
The tide of confidence now swung Rayon’s way as the Rwandese champions dictated the tempo and created more of the chances.
In the 58th minute, the visitors almost scored the third when Bimenyimana swung in a header from a Mutsinzi cross, but Odhoji produced a fine save to pick the ball from the top right corner.
Kerr rung in the changes, Ochieng brought off from his nightmare evening at right back and in came Lawrence Juma. The change saw a tilt in formation as Gor went three at the back in search of a goal.
Samuel Onyango was brought in for Mustafa and was taked with running down the entire right flank in the new formation.
Gor kept piling the pressure and would have won the game in added time but Mieno’s shot from inside the box was blocked on the line.