No less than Gor Mahia scorer on the day Nicholas Kipkurui reckons they will face a tall order as they bid to progress to the lucrative group stage of the Caf Champions League.
He led the attack in his team’s 4-1 heavy defeat to Algerian club USM Alger in the first round, first leg of this competition at the Stade Mustapha Tchaker in Bilda on Sunday night.
Zakaria Benchaa and Mohammed Mefta each scored twice to take the Kenya side to the cleaners.
Captain Kenneth Muguna scored the lone goal for the Kenyan champions from the penalty spot 10 minutes after the break, but this couldn’t prevent coach Steve Polack avoiding his first defeat since taking charge of the club.
The result means Polack’s charges have to win the return match 3-0 to progress to the next stage of this competition, a feat that comes with a Sh56 million cash prize.
“We will have to play better at home to stand a chance (of qualifying),” Kipkururi told the Algerian press.
“We gave our best but then this things happen. You cannot tell how we were three goals down at half-time. So we have to attack and defender better next time even though it is a tall order.”
The former Zoo Kericho’s forward concerns appear genuine considering the proceedings on Sunday night.
In a game dubbed ‘the battle of the broke champions’ by a section of supporters owing to the financial struggles of both teams, Gor Mahia’s David Mapigano was the busiest of the two goalkeepers.
At the stroke of half-time, the Tanzanian custodian handed the North Africans what appeared to be a soft penalty after bringing down a goal-bound Mefta in the box.
A minute later, Mapigano was in no-man’s land as he was beaten by a long, diagonal ball which found its way into the net, off the post. “This is the performance that I asked for, especially with the intensity and use of the wings,” said USM coach Billel Dziri.
When you continue to play in attack, science shows that the opponent will crack even more than once and that’s what happened in the first half,”. But this is football, and there is some glimmer of hope for Gor Mahia who were expected back in the country Monday night.
K’Ogalo have cultivated a habit of posting impressive results at home regardless of who the opponent is.
In the past two seasons, for example, the Kenyan club has defeated Egyptian giants Zamalek 4-2, Angola’s big wigs Petro Atletico 1-0, Tanzania’s glamour side Young Africans 4-0 and Burundi‘s little known Aigle Noir 5-1.