Drama characterised Gor Mahia’s trip to Morocco for last night’s CAF Confederation Cup quarter-final second leg tie against RS Berkane.
Gor, who lost the first leg 2-0, needed proper preparations ahead of the daunting second leg but got off to the worst possible start when photos of some of their players sleeping on the floor at the airport surfaced on social media on Saturday night.
The issue raised anger among football enthusiasts with some blaming the players while others pointed fingers at the club management.
Things reached boiling point when Gor chairman Ambrose Rachier claimed there was a possibility of K’Ogalo lining up with only eight players as some had not arrived on time for the 10pm kick-off.
K’Ogalo’s trip had witnessed several challenges ranging from late air ticket bookings by the government, a mechanical problem to the Kenya Airways flight they were initially supposed to travel in and the social media photos.
Delayed bookings forced Gor to transport players and officials to Morocco in four batches, two groups leaving via Doha while the others through France and Dubai and by midday yesterday, only eight players, coach Hassan Oktay and his assistant Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno had arrived in Berkane.
The other contingent, which included 11 players, was still finding their way to Berkane by bus, a 608km journey that takes seven hours by road, arriving at 8pm, two hours to kick-off.
“If they do not get here on time, we will use what we have, namely eight players including a goalkeeper. The laws allow us that,” Rachier told the media yesterday on the FIFA rule that allows a match to go on if a team has at least seven players.
While Rachier did not explain what led to the confusion, a section of club officials appeared to blame players for instigating the drama to draw sympathy.
Players vs club
“Yesterday (Friday) when the players missed their flight, they slept at Laico Regency Hotel. Now that they are on transit, they have no option but to put up on the chairs at the airport. They should also put the pictures of where they spent the night yesterday. That is just reverse psychology,” Gor treasurer Sally Bolo said on Facebook.
Gor players had been at loggerheads with the club’s management even before Berkane came to Nairobi, staging a go-slow and absconding training over unpaid allowances.
With the issue still not resolved, some of them are said to have frustrated the club’s plans for the trip to Morocco, leading to late bookings. But with a dividend house, the K’Ogalo hierarchy will have to come up with a quick solution otherwise their defence of the league title will go down the drain.