It was all joy and celebration among the Green Army faithfuls as a nine-man Gor Mahia produced a master-class show of defiance to beat Angolan club Petro Athletic de Luanda 1-0 to book a place in the quarter-finals of the CAF Confederations Cup at Kasarani stadium yesterday.
Gor Mahia defended with their backs to the wall after losing Ernest Wendo to a straight red card in the first half before Jacques Tuyisenge got the lead from the penalty spot and losing Shafik Batambuze later on due to two bookable offences.
Fans poured into the field in wild celebration after the final whistle and chants of the famous ‘Gor Biro, Yawne Yo’ rent the air in and outside the stadium.
Dining at the High Table
The last time Gor Mahia played in the quarter-finals of continental competition was in 1993. Ironically, they lost out to Angola’s AS Aviacao in the CAF Cup (later merged with the Cup Winners Cup competition to form the current CAF Confederations Cup) and as destiny would have it, they had to knock out another Angolan side to progress to another continental quarter final 26 years later.
But to appreciate what the boys have achieved, one needs to put their achievement into context. Before 1993, Gor Mahia was a regular diner at Africa football’s high table, and quarter-final appearances were often taken for granted, getting to 8 quarter-final appearances in 14 appearances. And while between 1994 to date, Gor Mahia had not tasted a quarter-final appearance in 10 appearances, the manner of achieving this feat was something special.
Previously, Gor Mahia played between four to six games to get to the quarter finals but with the introduction of the group stages, it has taken Gor 12 games of determination to get there.
Impregnable Fort Kasarani
The common adage is that success on the continent is built at home. Win all your games at home and chances of survival grow exponentially. Last season, Gor Mahia produced some scintillating performances in Kigali and Dar es Salaam, netting four points away from home. However, a draw against USM Algers and a loss against Rayon Sport put a halt on their chances of progressing to quarterfinals.
The team seemed to have learned its lesson. This season they have not picked up a single point away from home but a 100% home form in which they scored seven goals and only conceded 2 in the group stage ensured that even the mugging in Algeria could not prevent them from strolling into the quarters.
Since the loss to Rayon, Gor Mahia has won six straight CAF games at home, a club record. One has to go back all the way to 1988 to find the last time the team won 3 straight home games in CAF competitions.
The Quintessential Number 9
In the late 80s and early 90s, Peter Dawo was the defining striker that the club looked to for salvation when it came to facing the continent’s most formidable defences.
His tally of 14 goals in continental competitions is testament to his ability on the big stage.
Since his retirement, questions have been asked whether we will ever see another one of his calibre.
Up steps Jacques Tuyisenge… While his goal against Petro is perhaps his most important goal for the club to date, the big no.9 has proved his consistency on the continent with 10 goals to his name and only the great Peter Dawo has scored more on this stage.
The same way we have had past generations mention the likes of Sammy Onyango Jogoo, Hesbon Omollo and Peter Dawo as legendary goal-scorers for the club is the way this generation will mention Tuyisenge in the future.
Not many of us have witnessed a striker score over 50 goals for the club.
Gor Mahia fans have always bragged as being the trendsetters in football locally and this will be another milestone for the fans.
The first team in the country to get to a continental final, the first team in the country to win a continental trophy, the first team in the country to qualify for the group stage in the reshaped format and now the first team from the country to qualify out of the group stages…there’s no better time to be a Gor Mahia fan.