Additional reporting from the Nation
60,000-seater Stade Olympique Rades in Tunisia last Sunday, Esperance may have unleashed the demons in full force against Gor Mahia during the return match of the first round of Caf Champions League qualifiers, if the claims by an official of the club is anything to go by.
The hosts won 1-0 to progress to the group stage.
In the ill-tempered match, Gor Mahia players and members of the team’s technical bench were mistreated in Tunisia as the partisan home crowd chanted chauvinistic slogans.
Gor coach Dylan Kerr, his assistant Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno, team manager Jolawi Abondo and goalkeeper trainer Willis Ochieng were all assaulted in the 90-minute melee.
After the match, Kerr called it “the worst football game I have ever had to be part of.”
K’Ogalo exit Caf Champions League
“It was very scary. At one point we had to go into the pitch for our own security. We were all attacked. Willis was roughed up and thrown to the ground by the stewards and when Zico went to help, he was also assaulted. From the touchline, I ducked and missed at least three objects made of hard plastic that had been aimed at us while the game was going on. The worst thing is that when I turned to look, I saw that it was a uniformed police officer aiming the missiles,” Abondo told Nation Sport on Monday from Tunis.
The stakes were indeed high for both teams, as the first leg clash had ended 0-0. This gave both teams equal chances of making it o the prestigious group stage where clubs are rewarded with a Sh54 million bounty.
It was a highly emotional and ill-tempered match, with a three-minute stoppage just before half time when K’Ogalo technical bench ventured onto the pitch to escape missiles from the stands.
The Esperance fans were protesting against what they thought was bias by match referee from Botswana Joshua Bondo.
During the match, that was beamed live online, Esperance coach Khaled Yahia was seen entering the pitch twice in protest at the referee’s decision but escaped with a verbal caution, although Fifa rules are clear that such an offence warrants tougher punishment.
Gor however survived the intense hostility, and lost 1-0 courtesy of Anice Badri’s goal in the 21st minute after poor clearance from Wesley Onguso.
Gor now await their fate in Caf Confederation Cup play-offs round, where Caf Champions League losers will be pooled against Caf Confederation Cup first round winners.
The draw will be done on Wednesday at Caf headquarters in Egypt, and Gor’s possible opponents include Algeria’s CR Belouizdad (Algeria), Al Masry of Egypt, Nigeria’s Enyimba, CS La Mancha of Congo and SuperSport United of South Africa.
Kerr: Esperance were unsportsmanlike
Coach Dylan Kerr thinks his side did well in Tunis but were undone by unsportsmanlike conduct by the Esperance players.
“That was a hell of a game today i watched it and how these guys over power and take dives,They must now play in Kenya and get the same treatment,they acted like bullies and then run to protect the officials who i thought had a good game for them” said Kerr on social media.
Kerr have his side credit for battling to the end despite missing important players like Guikan, Kevin Omondi, Wellington Ochieng and Walusimbi.
“Pole [Sorry] to K’Ogalo, my Chairman and my hard-working players. Today I saw unreal things in football but We never gave up. We lost the game because at Machakos we didn’t score and we battled even when two players were missing, one injured and the other mmmmmmm no comment. I tried, we tried!” he added.