Gor Mahia overcame their tribulations to become the first Kenyan team ever to make it to the group stage of a continental competition. This after they lost 1-2 to Supersport United of South Africa. All the goals came in a spell of 10 minutes. Supersport scored first in the 61st minute through an Aaron Shakava own goal. Then Francis Kahata equalized less then 60 seconds later. And Supersport scored the second seven minutes later.
Additional Reporting from Citizen Sports
The build-up to this match for the 16-time champions was chaotic from their financial troubles to key players failing to obtain visas.
Gor Mahia were bailed out by Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko who paid for their flights to South Africa.
The Kenyan giants only arrived on Tuesday which meant that they had limited time to acclimatise to the conditions.
Gor Mahia coach Dylan Kerr had to make do without Rwandan Jacques Tuyisenge, who converted the late penalty in the first leg and Ephrem Guikan of the Ivory Coast as the pair’s work permits didn’t meet the requirements for them to be granted South African visas.
Francis Kahata made the trip and was in the starting line-up. He almost didn’t make it as his passport didn’t have the required two empty pages.
Whoever facilitated that administrative blunder helped the Kenyans as Kahata tormented SuperSport’s defence.
The Kenyan pulled the strings for Gor Mahia with his skills and clever running.
He silenced an already pathetic crowd with an equaliser from George Odhambo’s cross a minute after his captain Haron Shakava had scored in his own net. That goal proved to be golden for Gor Mahia.
United had went ahead at the stroke of the hour mark, after Gor’s captain Harun Shakava scored in his own net in a desperate effort to save.
It was a dramatic moment, as 58 seconds later, skillful Francis Kahata restored parity, the wonder away goal that would make the difference at the final whistle.
Thus the hosts 68th minute strike through Thabo Mnyamane was not enough to salvage their fortunes.
Despite missing key players in the squad, including first leg scorer Jacques Tuyisenge, influential holding midfielder Earnest Wendo, Ivorian Ephraim Guikan and Ugandan international Godfrey Walusimbi, the Dylan Kerr coached side was calm enough to absorb the away pressure from the three-time South African Premier League winners.
The hosts desire to level the aggregate score was evident from the start, fine crosses from the flanks flowing on Gor’s goal but the calm defense line comfortably keeping safe.
The first real threat came in the quarter-hour mark when Sipho Mbule flew his effort over the bar, from a sumptuous cross by Onismor Bhasera on the wing.
Seven minutes later Mbule found Dylan Stoffels in the goalmouth, whose cross across the goal was saved by Boniface Oluoch, denying a lurking Jamie Webber.
In the 25th, Le Roux connected Bhasera’s thread with a low drive, but could not pass the alert Gor defense. The Pretoria based side continued their onslaught; Mnyamane’s earning a free-kick that Mnyamane curved cunningly over Gor defense, only for Oluoch to thwart his effort.
Just before the break, Mnyamane rattled K’Ogalo’s man-wall with another free-kick in the goalmouth, in what was the last effort of the first stanza well dominated by Matsatsantsa.
A determined United resumed with clear intent for goals, Stoffels coming close in the 51 st with a powerful shot inside the box that forced Oluoch to a reflex save to keep Gor in the game.
Gor grew more ruthless in the attack too, with Kahata supplying Kagere two times succession whose shots flew wide.
Then came the game-changer moment, Shakava and Kahata finding the net at the hour top at the different ends, to usher a tense moment for both sides.
Tense indeed it was, as Gor sought to defend keep the scores flat while the hosts frantically sought two goals to advance.
Mnyamane’s goal restored hope, but the clock was ticking fast towards full time with Kerr rallying his besieged men to keep his instructions: “fighting hard to a point of sweating blood, to fly high national colors and clubs name,” as he had put it before jetting out for the clash.
Gor Mahia handled their troubles better
According to the Independent online, Gor Mahia handled their troubles better than Supersport. Read below
While Gor Mahia’s problems were administrative, SuperSport’s issues are on the field as they flirt with relegation. Interim coach Kaitano Tembo fielded a relatively young team with his main focus being to avoid relegation.
A number of key players like captain Dean Furman, Clayton Daniels, Aubrey Modiba and Thuso Phala were rested in this match that guaranteed the winners a place in the group stage of the Confederation Cup.
Matsatsantsa were there last season, going all the way to reach the final before crashing down in the domestic league due to the heavy workload that followed in their catch-up programme.
That schedule proved too much to handle for Matsatsantsa which is why they slipped to 14th position, a point ahead of 15th placed Ajax Cape Town with three matches to go.
The Kenyans handled their chaos better. They looked in control and troubled SuperSport with their quick counter.
But the Tshwane side responded well in the second half to put on a brave fight. Taking the lead and Gor Mahia’s quick equaliser woke SuperSport from their slumber.
They took the match to the depleted Kenyan side, muscling their way back through the boot of Thabo Mnyamane with his third goal of the tournament.
That resulted in an exciting and nervous finish for the home crowd as SuperSport needed another goal to win the tie, since the Kenyans scored a vital away goal which took them to the group stage of the Confederation Cup after their demotion from the Caf Champions League.
SuperSport now have to focus on their fight for survival with their African sojourn now over.