NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 17 – Nine-man Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia defended with their lives to see off a 1-0 victory over Angola’s Petro de Luanda and progress to the quarter finals of the CAF Confederations Cup for the first time in their history.
Rwandese forward Jacques Tuyisenge scored the lone goal off the penalty spot in the 56th minute after Boniface Omondi was hacked down inside the box by Carneiro Augusto.
Gor had to play half the game without their coach Hassan Oktay, 55 without defensive midfielder Ernest Wendo, and 16 without left back Shafik Batambuze, all shown red cards by ‘trigger happy’ Morrocan referee Redouane Jiyed.
The North African was issuing cards like confetti.
Gor had an opening half to forget with their coach and defensive midfielder both red carded. Wendo was the first to see red on the evening, getting a straight sending off in the 35th minute after a high boot tackle on Vladmir Etson Antonio after a miss-control of the ball.
Head coach Oktay was sent off just 10 minutes later after fiercely protesting a decision from the referee, his sending off coming just four minutes after he had been warned by the match official.
Batambuze was then sent to the dressing room 16 minutes from time for a second yellow card in less than five minutes. He was handed the first after going to ground and taking time back up while the second was for blocking an opponent.
Despite all odds stacked against them, the record Kenyan champions sailed through and earned a hefty Sh35mn payday for their efforts.
Needing a win at all costs to progress to the quarter finals, the wave was clearly against Gor Mahia’s ambition. Other than the red cards swung their way, they had registered just two shots on target in the entire half.
The first was in the fifth minute when Petro lost the ball in a dangerous position at the edge of the xix yard box. Boniface Omondi picked up, fed Jacques Tuyisenge but the Rwandese shot straight at the keeper.
Petro were not defensive and also had their efforts at goal. In the 16th minute, Ricardo Job swung in a corner from the right but Wilson Pinto’s connection went wide.
In the 22nd minute, Ricardo had a clean shot at goal himself when he raced on to Tiago Leal’s delivery with a cross from the right, but the pint sized winger could not direct his header on target.
Gor had much of the ball, but their decisions in the final third, especially Lawrence Juma’s in midfield always let them down. Their passes upfront were of poor quality and the front two of Tuyisenge and Nicholas Kipkurui had little to feed off.
After Wendo’s sending off, the burden was always going to be heavy. Tuyisenge had to play alone upfront with Kipkurui dropping in to help in midfield.
Gor should have gone to the break a goal up when they won a freekick in a promising position 20 yards from goal. Shafik Batambuze stepped behind it, but is curling effort went straight to the keeper with little trouble behind it.
Two minutes on the turn, Ricardo had a brilliant opportunity when a cross off the right found him unmarked at the backpost but his shot under a bit of pressure from Philemon Otieno hit the side netting.
In the second half, it was evident Gor were scenting blood and Tuyisenge showed his instincts with a header just a minute after the restart off a Batambuze cross that went inches wide.
Te minutes later, he sent the Kasarani Stadium into pandemonium.
The Rwandese stepped up, shot to the far right to score perhaps what will rank as his most important goal for Gor.
Tuyisenge should have added a second in the 70th minute when he was laid up by Francis Kahata, but his shot from the edge of the area was stopped by the crossbar.
Even with Batambuze’s red card, Gor still attacked and were denied by the upright again when Juma was sent through on goal from the right.