Gor Mahia on Saturday began their Confederation campaign on wrong footing after battling to a barren draw against Seychelles side Anse-ReUnion in the first instalment of the two legged preliminary round at the Nyayo National Stadium.
The football ‘gods’ conspired to deny the once ‘Mighty’ K’Ogalo goals in a match they hugely dominated and deserved to win by at least three clear goals.
The results puts the Kenyan representatives in a precarious position and they have to win the return leg away in Victoria to guarantee progress to the next round where Egyptian side ENNIPI lies in wait.
Head coach Zdravko Logarusic fielded a largely unchanged squad from the one that won him two silverware last season with the only two new faces being the KCB January signing Paul Mungai Kiongera and right back David Owino who won the nod ahead of last season’s regular Solomon Nasio.
However, his trusted lieutenants could not get the job done on homesoil leaving him with a Herculean task ahead of the return leg in Victoria.
Lead striker Rama Salim could have put K’Ogalo ahead as early as the seventh minute when skipper Moses Odhiambo laid a neat cross for him but his attempt went begging with Anse Re-union keeper Ricky Rose clearly beaten.
Logarusic’s men continued to surge forward with Kiongera and the dreadlocked Ugandan Dan Sserunkuma all coming close time and again but they lacked the killer punch in the final third.
The pint-sized Ugandan had a chance in the 11th minute when he should have buried the resultant delivery from Salim but he shot straight into the arms of Ricky Rosse.
Their domination, their short passes, or long range attempts did nothing to unlock the resolute defending of the islanders who stuck to their defensive game plan with the aim of picking a precious draw.
Gor however had to play with a man less in the final 20 minutes when midfield enforcer Anthony ‘Teddy’ Akumu, who had been brilliant all afternoon was shown a straight red card in the 70th minute by centre referee Haileyesus Bazezew for committing a professional foul on Huso Sezoy. Kiongera will particularly rue his missed chances in his debut continental club championships after misfiring the whole afternoon.
His wastefulness made Logarusic pull him out to for Edwin Lavatsa. Lavatsa in the 56th minute. Anse’s chance came through a corner kick in the 33rd minute when
centre forward Yavanny Rose beat Jerim Onyango to a Rodrick Rose well taken corner kick but his header went inches above the cross bar.
With play-maker Kevin ‘Ade’ Omondi in for Joseph Njuguna and Christoper Wekesa being sacrificed for Victor Ali as the hunt for elusive goal continued, Gor upped the pressure but the visitors
custodian Ricky Rose kept his eye on the ball frustrating the home fans with endless saves. Logarusic blamed the lack of goals to inexperience and wastefulness
amongst his strikers. ‘’We have good strikers .
They are young and talented but they lack the experience. We lack a finisher who can position himself well on the
pitch and convert the chances.’’
His opposite number Joel Ankor was however elated the away point.’’We played a very good team and we were good as well.
I am happy as the outcome gives a real chance of progressing.