James Magayi @magayijim
It is make or break for Gor Mahia in the CAF Confederation Cup as they play the final group match against USM Alger in Algiers, Algeria, at 4pm today.
Gor are embroiled in a nail-biting three-pronged quest for a quarter-final place in the continent’s second tier club championship with their hosts USM Alger and Rayon Sports of Rwanda. The fourth group participant Young Africans (Yanga) of Tanzania are out of contention.
Victory for Rayon in Kigali over visiting Yanga coupled with anything less than victory for Gor will end the 1987 Mandela Cup winners’ hopes of another continental silverware.
K’Ogalo lead the group on eight points same as USM Alger but they have scored one more goal than the Algerian outfit, hence their lofty seat on the table. Rayon trail with six points but will be guaranteed progress if they beat Yanga regardless of the outcome in Algiers.
The group permutations are very interesting as a draw between USM Alger and Gor coupled with Rayon’s victory will pit the three teams level on nine points.
In case of a tie between more than two teams at the end of group matches, CAF Competitions Committee’s tie-breaker state that the greatest number of points obtained in the matches between the concerned teams will be used to determine who progresses. If the teams are inseparable after applying the first tie-breaker the best goal difference in the matches between the concerned teams applies.
K’Ogalo are doing badly in those two instances and would be knocked out should they fail to win and Rayon break down Yanga. At the beginning of this campaign, Gor had hoped their final group tie in Algeria would not be necessary for their progress to the quarters but a home loss to Rayon 10 days ago plunged them into the current quagmire.
They must win to guarantee progress or hope that the rejuvenated Yanga avoid defeat in Kigali. K’Ogalo have reason to hope in the usually hostile Carthage, having played with a man less for close to 40 minutes against USM Alger in Nairobi and came out unscathed.
USM Alger will also miss four cogs in their squad owing to suspension, meaning a well-drilled Gor can grind a result away. Mohammed Mezeghrani, Mohammed Benyahia and Mohammed Benkhemessa and Rafik Bourdebal will play no part in today’s game after CAF slapped four match bans on them for unsporting behaviour in last month’s home draw with Rayon.
Coach Dylan Kerr rested his first team players over the last 10 days and hopes the squad will be fresh and lively for today’s crucial fixture.