From the searing heat of Tunis to the freezing temperatures of Pretoria, Gor Mahia’s quest for continental glory takes them to South Africa after drawing SuperSport United in the CAF Confederation Cup round of 16 play-off.
The Kenyan champions’ prayer of a non-Arab opponent was answered with the draw but they must still do better to banish memories of last week’s acrimonious elimination from the Champions League by Esperance of Tunisia.
K’Ogalo will host SuperSport in the first leg on April 7 then travel down South on April 18. Gor dropped to the second tier competition following their elimination from the Champions league while SuperSport United progressed by eliminating Angolan club Petro Atletico.
The South African club forced a scoreless draw in Luanda, Angola during the first leg then won 2-1 at home, coming from behind to score twice in the last 13 minutes of the second leg. It will be Gor’s first meeting with SuperSport, who have only played one Kenyan opponent in AFC Leopards whom they eliminated 4-2 on aggregate in the 2014 Confederation Cup.
SuperSport had a fair run in the competition last season but lost their best players to rivals at the beginning of this season. The Matsatsantsa are currently struggling in the PSL but have reciprocated last season’s continental form in the Confederation Cup.
The team has won just six of their 24 league matches and lie three points off the relegation zone in South Africa’s top-tier. A cautious Gor coach Dylan Kerr sounded positive about his team’s chances but is wary of SuperSport’s threat.
“In my many years playing and coaching football, I’ve seen teams struggling in their domestic leagues but performing so well in continental championships. That is the same case with our next opponents but we are well motivated and willing to put in our best to progress,” said Kerr.
He added: “We were a bit deflated after that unfair elimination by Esperance but we are fighters. We’ve got to find the strength to get back up and keep going. I love the attitude of my players, I love how they are willing to follow instructions and give their best for the team.”