James Magayi @magayijim
Kenyan champions Gor Mahia paid the price for complacency, disorganisation and negative approach in CAF Confederation Cup as defeat to USM Alger in Algeria sent them tumbling out at the group stage last evening.
The Kenyan club succumbed to a second successive 2-1 defeat in the group stage of second tier continental club championship to finish thirrd in Group D, thereby missing out on the quarter-finals despite possessing sufficient arsenal to crack the group.
After fumbling their home game to Rayon Sport 11 days prior, the writing was on the wall for K’Ogalo as group permutations pointed to a potential elimination. They had to win their final group match in Algiers or pray for a favourable outcome in Kigali between Rayon Sports and Young Africans. None happened and their campaign ended in a rather predictable anti-climax.
An overly defensive approach in the opening half against USM Alger left K’Ogalo exposed and in disarray as the hosts easily scored in each half to banish Gor from lucrative stages of the championships. Coach Dylan Kerr’s plan to choke the midfield with Ernest Wendo, Humphrey Mieno and Philemon Otieno backfired massively as the hosts penetrated from the flanks.
Kerr tinkered with the line up disastrous outcome. Karim Nzigiyimana, just back from a nine-month injury lay-off was thrown in the deep end at left back. Charles Momanyi, a centre half, was deployed at left back with a natural in that position Wesley Onguso sitting on the bench. The hosts exploited the loopholes to devastating effects.
A reorganisation in the second half allowed K’Ogalo to express themselves but the cunning Carthage club had smelt blood. They gleaned every opportunity to run down the clock and frustrated Gor to take the victory.
The hosts failed to capitalise on a soft penalty handed to them in the ninth minute when the ball glazed Gor skipper Harun Shakava in the box. K’Ogalo players briefly protested but the referee stuck to his guns.
Mohamed Meftah stepped up to take the spot kick but Gor’s third choice goalkeeper Fredrick Odhiambo saved with his left foot.
Prince Doniama then met Redouane Cherifi’s corner with a powerful free header, which flew high into the net as helpless Gor players looked on. The goalkeeper was off his line and the fullbacks were not manning the goalposts.