Even before Gor Mahia touched down at the Oliver Tambo Airport, people were predicting the end of the Kenyan flag in the continent's grand stage just because the Dylan Kerr coached side had not only left the country late due to travel hitches but had showed so little ambition against SuperSport when they had a chance to at least lay a glove on the 2017 CAF Confederations Cup finalists at home in the first leg.
That said, comparisons of Gor Mahia’s illustrious past have often irked coaches who have managed the team as they endeavoured to illuminate the past records and living with the demands that come with managing the club; writing their own history being another page that they have tried to crack.
But after years of trial to make it to the group stages, Dylan Kerr has finally cracked it. While awaiting to know who he will have to face in the group stages in the draws on Saturday, he will be going through the club’s season in Africa in 1987; Peter Dawo’s header against Esperance that year will all form part of the coach’s revision for what he hopes will be a journey that he can concur.
Ever since that year, Gor Mahia has tried to make claim in the continental scene to no avail. In what can be described as ‘petty’ mistakes, the club has watched as ‘smaller’ teams that were formed after them tease and roam the continental. The likes of Zesco United have made it a habit reaching the later stages of the competition and this, in so many ways, has not only pointed to the stagnation of the once big African brand but the laxity of the men tasked in leading the club in moving with time and in ticking the right boxes.
What should be done
Now, the important thing is that Gor Mahia is back and this is the opportunity to make up for the lost time. If Gor Mahia has learnt something in every season that they tried to break into the group stage is that home matches must be taken seriously. If Gor Mahia were to beat Tunisian side Esperance at home, in their Champions League preliminary round clash, who knows, they might have just nicked it with the big boys in that big competition.
They will have to score goals, and that has not been a problem for Dylan Kerr's side. In the games they have played in 2018, they have only failed to score in three of their games; their scoreless draw against Tusker FC in the league and the two legged tie against Esperance. This is the time to invoke yester years memories, attack in games, don’t hold back; Dawo would tell you that, and that is what should be done. Home games must count, while attacking, the team has to ensure that they don’t concede goals this mattering most in the later stages (because I believe they have the potential of making it past the group stages).
Tactics apart and more than anything, there is simply that feeling that Gor Mahia is back in a competition that once defined them.