Gor Mahia will not go beyond Esperance in the CAF Champions League.
That is the verdict of club legend John “Bobby” Ogolla, who was part of Gor’s golden generation that won the club’s only continental title in 1987.
Coincidentally, it is the Tunisian giants Esperance that K’Ogalo vanquished 31 years ago to clinch the Africa Cup Winners Cup but since then, the Kenyan champions have had the harrowing experience of a rather harsh elimination by the Maghreb side in their subsequent meetings and Ogolla does not see that changing.
“You see, during our time, Gor used to parade for Africa tournaments every year which gave players enough exposure unlike today when qualification to the same is erratic and can sometimes take two to three years making players rusty,” he said. He added: “Given that we were perennial qualifiers to these events, we used to meet top-notch teams and we were a battle-hardened lot and I guess that is why we beat Esperance.”
“It’s always going to be a daunting task for Gor to kill off the match as a contest. They will require a miracle to do it,” said Ogolla.
Esperance did exact revenge on Gor by eliminating them 8-2 on aggregate in the 2014 Africa Champions League, after winning 3-2 and 5-0 away and at home respectively and the Kenyan side could not have asked for a dreaded opposition in the next stage after holding Leones Vegeteranios 1-1 in the second leg of the preliminary round in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea on Wednesday to eliminate them 3-1 on aggregate.
Considered as one of Africa’s football supermen, who have several continental trophies stashed in their cabinet, Esperance qualified in an even bigger fashion as after drawing 1-1 with ASAC Concord of Mauritania in the first leg in Nouakchott, before prevailing 5-0 over the islanders in the decider in Tunis to sail through 6-1 on aggregate.
Now fingers will be crossed amongst Gor faithful who will be hoping that the team will rediscover their midas touch that enabled them stun Esperance during which time most players in the current squad were not yet born. It can be recalled that it was Peter Dawo who almost single-handedly propelled Gor to the honours and not even Esperance were spared of his goal-scoring antics.
Dawo scored one of the two goals in the dramatic 2-2 draw with Esperance in the first leg of the final in Tunis and followed it up with a lone strike in another 1-1 stalemate in the return in Nairobi, as Gor won the cup on strength of the away goals rule.