The arithmetic is now simple for Gor Mahia. Avoid defeat in their next match and they are Sh35 million richer.
Gor need only a draw in the reverse CAF Confederation Cup tie against Rwanda’s Rayon Sport in Nairobi on August 19 to be assured at least second place in Group D which will see them qualify for the quarter-final of a continental event for the first time in 30 years.
K’Ogalo—who beat Tanzania giants Yanga 3-2 for their second group win on Sunday—top the group with eight points, same as Algerian side USM Alger—who drew 1-1 at home to Rayon—but the Kenyan champions have scored a goal more.
Rayon, on three points, still have hope if they defeat Gor and Yanga in their remaining two matches, assuming K’Ogalo and USM falter, meaning the leading duo has an easy route as they each need a point to lock out the Rwandese.
Gor, who pocketed Sh 27 million for reaching the group stage, seem to be steadily rediscovering their 1987 glory when they became the first team in East and Central Africa to win the Africa Cup Winners Cup which is the harbinger of the Africa Champions League.
The team first reached the quarter-finals of the competition in 1981 before repeating the feat in 1988, a year after being crowned champions, though the group stage was introduced by CAF recently.
Gor’s latest performance points to a renaissance of some sort, considering most clubs have always been eliminated in the early stages of continental events over the last two decades.
The only Kenyan side to have come close was Sofapaka who missed a place in the group phase (money bracket) following a loss to Club Africain of Tunisia in the CAF Confederation Cup in 2012.
Both Gor and rivals AFC Leopards have tried and failed on numerous occasions until K’Ogalo’s latest heroics. So what have they done differently?
“What we are seeing at Gor is a committed group of players who have passion for the club. The team’s performance is full-proof that the Kenyan league is competitive and at this rate, you can always expect a strong national team,” said former Harambee Stars coach Stanely Okumbi, who believes Gor are reaping from tactical acumen and consistency.
Club legend Peter Dawo called on players to remain dedicated and reminded them that they are capable of beating any team in Africa with proper planning.
According to the CAF reward structure, the Confederation Cup attracts Sh27 million at the group phase (where Gor are now), Sh35 million (quarter-final), Sh45 million (semi-finalists) while the winners pocket Sh125 million as runners up go home with Sh62 million.