Kenyan Premier League (KPL) giants Gor Mahia picked their first ever point on home soil in the CAF Confederations Cup as they played to a barren draw with Algerian side USM Alger in the tournament on Wednesday 16 May.
It was the second straight draw for Gor Mahia after playing to a 1 - 1 draw with Rayon Sport in the opening Group D game in Kigali. Here are some of the talking points from the match:
When Gor Mahia embarked on their continental campaign very few found it hard to believe that Dylan Kerr’s charges would not concede a home goal in all the four matches so far against some of Africa’s top sides, after keeping clean sheets against Esperance, USM Alger, Supersport and the little known Leones Vegetarianos from Equatorial Guinea.
Gor Mahia had to do it the hard way, playing with a makeshift defense after right back Karim Nizigiyimana picked an injury at end of the 2017 while Wellington Ochieng suffered a similar fate at the start of the current season. Their defensive options were further depleted when they lost their club captain and defensive shield Musa Mohammed to Tirana.
In the game against Alger, Gor Mahia showed resilience at the back and defensive maturity when they lost Joash Onyango who has been instrumental for the Green Army since taking over the mantle from Musa Mohammed. Experienced Humphrey Mieno slotted in at the back and fitted seamlessly for 35 minutes.
The weather has not been welcoming to Gor Mahia in their continental fixtures and it once again played a big role in the team’s performance against USM Alger. It all started in the game against Tunisian outfit Esperance when the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos was left water logged after a night of heavy downpours.
In their opening group stage clash against Rayon Sport the pitch condition worsened after the flood gates opened soaking up the playing surface with pools of water. The game against Alger stuck to the same script as Nairobi experienced heavy rains before kickoff and it continued to drizzle for the better part of the game.
K’Ogalo have been creating a flurry of chances but burying them has been an issue, head coach Kerr bemoaned the lack of a cutting edge in attack in this post-match comments “I don’t believe we had luck, I think somebody put a curse on us”. The game against Rayon Sport highlighted their blunt attack with the side missing many chances to win the game.
Gor Mahia should have grabbed the lead in the first half but were denied by the upright when George Odhiambo’s first half shot from a tight angle couldn’t maneuver its way in, hitting the post to go out for a goal kick.
Perhaps the team missed the services of Meddie Kagere upfront, who has one goal already in the competition but his replacement Ephrem Guikan had a decent game.
Also read: Preview: Gor Mahia in historic clash with USM Alger
Officiating in a game against North African sides is always a daunting task for the referee and Malian Mahamadou Kéïta tried his best to keep the tempers from flaring but got a few decisions wrong in the game. The Joash Onyango red card was a bit too harsh although he was on a yellow card and should have been careful with his tackles.
There were a few penalty shouts in the game which the referee failed to give with most of them falling to Gor Mahia. Mohamed Benyahia’s clumsy tackle brought down George Odhiambo in the box towards the end of the game but the referee waved away the appeals.
Dylan Kerr got his tactics right in the game, and his team threatened with a number of chances in the first half but even after going down to 10 men, he didn’t force a panic substitution. Gor Mahia played a 4-2-4 formation when attacking in the first half with Francis Kahata and Blackberry joining Guikan and Tuyisenge upfront leaving Wendo and Mieno to man the midfield.
Also read: Kahata terms USM Alger game a must win
The red card to Joash Onyango scrapped Gor Mahia’s tactics but experienced Mieno slotted well in the back four and for anyone who watched the game after the red card would have thought it was 11 against 11.
Many coaches would have opted to include a defensive player immediately after the red card but Kerr held his cards close to his chest till the 85th minute to bring on Cercidy Okeyo for the jaded Guikan.
Gor Mahia will next face Sofapaka in the Kenyan Premier League on Sunday 20 May.