Record Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia’s continental fears were confirmed yesterday after they were beaten 2-1 by visiting CRB Belouizdad of Algeria in a lackluster second leg of their Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League duel at the Nyayo Stadium.
K’Ogalo started the match needing a miracle 7-0 win over the visitors, after they lost 6-0 in Algiers last week, but they could not match their opponents as they ended up losing 8-1 on aggregate after the final whistle.
The visitors came from behind to snatch victory in Nairobi and progress to the group stages for the first time since 2001.
Burundian forward Jules Ulimwengu scored the opening goal in the first half for Gor, but Amir Sayoud who was Gor’s chief tormentor in the first leg with a hat trick, showed up again with a goal and assist within the final 12 minutes of the game.
Sayoud scored in the 78th minute before laying off the ball for Abdelkader Belharane six minutes later for the second.
Gor started off on a high note from the first whistle, stringing passes with ease as they sought to pin down the technically superior six time Algerian Champions.
The midfield work load of captain Kenneth Muguna who hoped a surprise birthday gift but in vain and defensive pair of Bertrand Konfor and Earnest Wendo was exceptional and their understanding made life difficult for the visitors in initial stages.
Inside four minutes, Clifton Miheso made the first attempt that was excellently saved by Belouizdad’s second choice goalkeeper Merbah Gaya. The build-up was sublime as the move built up from winger Samuel Onyango and Muguna but the timing of Miheso’s shot was feeble as he was quickly closed down by Sofiane Bouchar.
Three minutes later the visitors initiated a quick counter attack spraying passes between Houssein Selmi and Bilal Tariket but Gor Mahia custodian Gad Matthews was quick to intercept the threats as danger man Zakaria Draqui lurked.
In the 12th minute, Philemon Otieno while attempting to snatch a ball was booked by the Seychelles referee as he clamped onto Draqui.
Miheso kept on causing havoc to the visitors defense and at one point picked a good square pass from Jules Ulimwengu but the shot was also ably dealt with by Gaya.
In the 22nd minute against the run of play Gor Mahia got the opening goal after a good run and pass from Onyango down the right flank to hit a low shot in that was tapped in by Ulimwengu.
After conceding, the Algerians slowed the tempo, taking control with dominant passing and speed with their danger man Amir Sayoud testing the Mathews twice but to no avail as the defensive pair of Joachim Oluoch and Charles Momanyi communicated well as the home side carried a 1-0 lead at half time.
In the second half, the Algerians were a bit adventurous moving forward and had a chance on the hour mark when a swift move at the edge of the box released substitute Youccef Bechou on the right but his shot was punched away by Mathews.
Gor then made a change, the off-color Miheso coming out for Malawian Andrew Malisero.
The visitors had another chance in the 65th minute, Bechou once again coming close.
He was fed through with a delightful pass by the impressive Amir Sayoud, but a last ditch tackle by Mike Apudo took some sting off the effort to accord Mathews an easy collection.
Their pressure finally bore fruit with 12 minutes left, Sayoud striking a brilliant free kick from the edge of the area after Apudo had brought down Bechou.
They closed shop with six minutes left through a defensive mistake from Gor’s end. Charles Momanyi mistimed a bouncing ball, Bechou won the header to pass to Sayoud who in turn laid a one time pass to Belharane whose first time shot from the right landed into the bottom right of the goal.