There was an air of inevitability about the outcome of this first time ever historic tie between fast-rising Morrocan side RS Berkene and the indefatigable hosts in Nairobi, Kenyan record league and cup winners, Gor Mahia that ended 2-0 in favor of the guests.
Not only were the Kenyans deprived of their best players in the key departments Boniface Oluoch in goal, Haron Shakava captain and leader in defence, enforcer Ernest Wendo in midfield and above all lethal goal-getting Rwandese Jacques Tuyisenge, they had to endure with the never-ending go-slows over monetary issues prior to the encounter.
“It is always going to be difficult to have players of that quality missing, more so the ones who play reguarly and have experience. We missed thembut we had good chances to at least draw but we know this tie is far from over,” said assistant coach Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno.
It was no surprise when Bakre El Helali missed a header for the Morrocans to assert their dominance in the Kasarani duel in the opening quarter.
Both sides preferred to attack from the flanks with Boniface Omondi and Francis Kahata seeking to be the damage doers for K’Ogalo while Ismail Mokadem was like vintage David Beckham bending dangerous balls that Fredrick Odhiambo was tested with frequently.
24 minutes in, Issoufou Dayo made the breakthrough for the visitors with a powerful header.
Gor sought a riposte with left footed center half Charles Momanyi blasting the ball wide from point blank range however in mitigation with his weak right foot. Prior to that captain Mohamed Aziz had to tip his goal-bound header over the bar.
Afterwards Boniface Omondi from even a better situation failed to level in the 30th minute with Berkane keeper Abdelaali M’hamd defeated.
They would have paid with a second concession when Omar Namsaoui forced a top draw save from the increasingly impressive Odhiambo.
Gor finished the half strongly though the anonymous Dennis Oliech and Francis Mustapha, two international level players was galling.
Composure was required in the second half for either side to achieve their objectives and both did ever so well to emulate the cucumber in pursuit of their objectives.
With no intelligent outlets and telepathic understanding upfront, it was always going to be a struggle for Gor’s creatives Kahata and Kenneth Muguna to make their presence felt.
How K’Ogalo’s thousands of fans with coach Hassan Oktay in the stands and Zedekiah Otieno assisting him on the touchline wished the bewitching duo would have been afforded cross runs and movements that both Oliech and Mustapha can make but barely mastered yesterday.
How Nicholas Kipkirui remains benched only coming on for fire-fighting missions remains an enigma. He came on, worked hard but the damage was already halfway done. With an hour played the tie was over.
Flanks are proving to be king and crosses no longer maligned Helali got on the end of one leaving Gor with mount Kenya to climb without the necessary attire.
History making feats look over at least in the aftermath of this defeat.
After the second goal, on came Samuel Onyango and Erisa Ssekisambu bute verybody knew it was an uphill task for two uninspiring duo to get Gor back in the groove.