Gor Mahia was unable to overcome the absence of 5 key players and the coach as they went down 0-2 to RS Berkane of Morocco at Kasarani on Sunday.
Additional reporting from the Nation
Gor Mahia are left with one tall mountain to climb following Sunday’s painful 2-0 loss to Moroccan side RS Berkane in their Caf Confederation Cup quarterfinal first leg tie at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.
A red faced Gor coach Hassan Oktay blamed the loss on the players’ strike that had seen them boycott training in the days leading up to the match.
Midway through the second half, a scary looking man ventured onto the pitch and gestured animatedly at a bewildered assistant coach Zedekiah Zico Otieno, letting him know in no uncertain terms that more was to be desired from the team.
“My job is very difficult. These types of games require players to be at the best frame of mind. Days before the match the players are on strike. You struggle so hard to motivate them all season and then this. A 2-0 loss because of this. I am so hurt. My job is hard,” said a dejected Oktay in his post match interview.
“The five missing players affected team balance and the quality of our performance today. That’s why we lost,” said Oktay.
While Gor took comfort in the experience of veteran Dennis Oliech, the Moroccans seemed to bank on midfielder Omar Namsaoui, who was constantly at the centre of many chances for Berkane.
He delivered a free kick in the 24th minute which ace midfielder Issoufou Dayo headed accurately into the net to temporarily silence the raucous home fans.
Barke El Helali added salt to injury for K’Ogalo in the 51st minute when he capitalised on a defensive mistake from Philemon Otieno to send the ball right into the net.
Boniface Omondi, Kahata and Oliech had good chances in the first half, but they lacked in luck and finishing technique and all their chances came to naught in that first half.
Chances were few and spread apart in the second half, as the Moroccans managed the game perfectly and purposed only to frustrate their opponents by holding the ball within their area.
Shortly through the second half, and with the vocal terrace fans demanding changes in the squad, coach Otieno introduced Erisa Ssekisambu just shortly after he had brought Nicholas Kipkurui for Francis Mustafa.
Sekissambu came through with a last chance in the 78th minute but goalkeeper Abdelaalai M’Hamdi lay on the path of the ball to make it another incredible save.