Kenya’s football pride Gor Mahia wrote yet another beautiful chapter in their decorated history under the dark skies of Nairobi on Sunday evening at Kenya’s sports cathedral, the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani as they beat Petro Atletico of Angola 1-0 in a crunch CAF Confederations Cup final Group ‘D’ match to storm to the quarter finals, despite finishing the game with nine men and without their head coach Hassan Oktay in the technical area.
Shafik Batambuze was red-carded in the 76th minute joining Ernest Wendo(first half) and head coach Oktay who had also suffered a similar fate.
Big game performer, Rwandan hit-man Jacques Tuyisenge once again lived to his reputation scoring the all-important goal from the penalty spot in the 57th minute after marauding attacker Boniface Omondi had been hacked down in the six-yard box in full flight as he charged towards the enemy’s goal.
With the sweet-savoured victory, Gor became the first and only Kenya club to sail to the quarters of Africa’s premier secondary club championship, and with it came a staggering sh35 million; sh27 million for qualifying to the group stages and sh8 million for the quarters – that will come in handy for the cash-strapped Kenyan giants.
The victory however came at a high price as lead midfield bulldozer Ernest Wendo was shown a red-card in the first half while his head coach, Cypriot-Briton Hassan Oktay also suffered a similar fate just before break, as his volcanic temper exploded in the face of match referee.
Oktay, following the proceedings from the terraces, brought in Geoffrey Ochieng in the 72nd minute for Mustapha in a tactical move aimed at locking the game.
Tuyisenge could have literally put the visitors to the sword but his thunderous drive came off the wood work in the 75th minute before Ugandan defender Shafik Batambuze earned a red-card two minutes later, leaving Gor to battle it out with nine men.
Emotions ran high throughout the game with the visiting coach also getting marching orders for dissent late in the game.
Gor are however likely to attract severe fines from Caf after their fans stormed into the pitch at the blow of the whistle. The match referee and match commissioner will most likely capture the developments in their reports.
The joy was however palpable on the terraces as the Green Army danced to the development that will see them rub shoulders with the continent’s best at the elite stage.
K’Ogallo went into the match lying bottom of Group D on six points from five matches but the win catapulted them to second as Petro and Algeria’s NA Hussein Day crashed out on eight and seven points respectively,while Zamalek rounded it off with nine.
Gor got to a slow start but got into the game as play progressed with Boniface Omondi blazing over from the left side of the box just after seven minutes following an inviting flick from Nicholas Kipkirui.
Hassan Oktay had his charges sparking as he pushed for a goal, and Kipkirui squandered the chance to give his side the lead after midfield powerhouse Francis Kahata swung a fine cross into the visitors’ area halfway into the opening half.
Play was suspended for a couple of minutes on the brink of the half-hour mark as the visiting custodian Elber Delgado had to be attended to following a collision in the box as he parried away Kahata’s threatening cross.
The second half got ugly at one point as irate K’Ogalo fans vandalized a number of seats and sending them flying towards the pitch, with the stewards cornering one fan who was off to the pitch.
Fan favourite Dennis Oliech was called on amid ‘Wuod Maria’ chants as Kipkirui retired to the bench, the final score standing at 1-0 in favour of Gor Mahia.
Additional reporting by Julius Jumah
Gor Mahia Starting XI
1. Peter Odhiambo
2. Philomon Otieno
3. Shafik Batumbuze
4. Haron Shakava
6. Ernest Wendo
7 Boniface Omondi
9. Jacques Tuyisenge
11. Francis Kahata