When Egyptian referee Gehad Grisha blew the final whistle to signal the end of Wednesday night’s CAF Champions League match between Gor Mahia and Esperance at Machakos Stadium, relief was evident on the faces of the visitors.
Out-played and outmuscled, the North Africans were relieved to have drawn the match and bowed on the pitch in appreciation.
The 90 minutes on Wednesday evening proved that Gor Mahia players have matured and can now hold their own against Esperance, who four years ago, walked over them 8-2.
While players and the technical bench have proved they can do it, lack of support from the club’s management could just end the team’s progress in the tournament.
On the eve of the match, players spent about seven hours on the road to Machakos. They were waiting for their pay, which was not forthcoming until when they were told they would be paid while in Machakos.
In the end, they received a two-match bonus allowance, just to convince them to honour the match.
The fighting spirit of the players left coach Dylan Kerr hugely impressed and had kind words for his charges.
“The circumstances surrounding preparations for this match were not the best especially after we spent seven hours on the road to Machakos on Tuesday night, but I want to commend the players for showing a lot of courage and enthusiasm."
“In the first half we could have easily scored five goals after we took to the pitch and dominated the game in every department,” he said.
Regarding Gor’s chances of making it past Esperance, Kerr said they could do it.
“I don’t care about what happened in 2014. That is history and believe that with the right mentality, we can pull a positive result this time around.”
With Sh55 million at stake, K'Ogalo will need to pull together to ensure they pull through.