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K’Ogalo to avoid African opponent in today’s Confederations Cup

James Magayi @magayijim

Gor Mahia will know their next continental opponent today when Confederation of African Football (CAF) conducts a draw for second-tier Confederations Cup group stage play-offs. The Kenyan champions were controversially eliminated from top-tier CAF Champions League by Esperance of Tunisia on Sunday and consequently dropped down to vie for a place in the Confederations Cup group stage.

K’Ogalo returned to the country yesterday to an anxious fan base praying for a non-Arab team in the Confederations Cup play-offs. Among the clubs Gor could be paired with are Supersport of South Africa, Raja Casablanca of Morocco, Al Masry of Egypt and USM Alger of Algeria.

The Kenyan champions have re-adjusted their targets to reaching the semi-finals of the Confederations Cup although coach Dylan Kerr is coy. K’Ogalo missed out on the much-sought Sh55 million minimum earnings from the Champions League group stage but stand to make Sh27 million from the second tier if they can overcome their next opponent.

All third and fourth placed teams in the Confederations Cup group stage will earn Sh27.5 million while group winners and runners up pocket Sh10 million more. All semi-finalists are awarded Sh45 million while cup winners will walk away with Sh125 million.

The financially unstable Gor are eyeing the millions on offer in the Confederations Cup but must first overcome one of the 16 teams in pot A for the CAF draw. “I believe we were one year earlier in this ambition and so the next edition should be a better outing for us in the Champions League. I’m still very proud of my players and club.

This was a great learning experience for the club, the players and myself. I’ve been brought up in a professional way which automatically makes me be respected by other coaches, players and everyone involved in the game but what I saw in Tunis was new to me and shocking,” said Kerr.

Gor Mahia have written a protest letter to CAF regarding the harassment they faced in Tunis during the match and expect the continental governing body to reign in Esperance. Gor’s technical staff was assaulted and objects thrown at their bench forcing the match to be halted for a while as they scampered for safety into the pitch.

“We have filed an official complaint to CAF with regards to what transpired in the stadium. It looked like a war and not a football match. That level of intimidation brings the game into disrepute and CAF needs to act on it forthwith,” said Gor chairman Ambrose Rachier.

The two-leg play-offs dates are fixed on April 6 with the return match on April 17. “Winning at home is definitely the key to progressing in these continental competitions. It was my first time in the CAF Champions League and that lesson will stick with me forever,” added Kerr.

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