Fatigue sets in at Gor Mahia: No time to rest for Gor Mahia as Sofapaka, AFC come calling

By Rodgers Eshitemi: Tuesday, August 21st 2018 at 00:05 GMT +3 | Football
Gor Mahia FC's Lawrence Juma (left) and Mutsinzi Ange of Rayon Sports, Rwanda in their fifth Group D match of the CAF Confederations Cup at Kasarani on Sunday August 19, 2018. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]?

K’Ogalo face a season defining moment as Sofapaka and AFC  lie in wait.

Gor Mahia may have had a tough week, but there is no time to relax or ponder as the next three matches can define their season.

Just three days after complicating their Caf Confederations Cup quarterfinals qualification chances with a shock 2-1 home defeat to Rayon Sports at Kasarani, Sofapaka are line waiting for the run-away SportPesa Premier League leaders on the local scene in Narok tomorrow.

It is going to get even harder with Saturday’s Mashemeji derby against a resurgent AFC Leopards at Kasarani, a game that could win them their 17th unprecedented league title.

K’Ogalo then fly out to Algiers, Algeria on August 29 for a decisive final group tie against joint leaders USM Alger (8), who also lost by the same margin to Tanzania’s Yanga on match day five.

Though this has been one of the best seasons for Gor in recent times, setting the bar so high for themselves appears to be taking a toll on them as they seek to retain the league title and at least reach the knock out stages of Caf Confederations Cup.

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Sunday’s lackluster performance, showed that a combination of fixture congestion, travels, injuries and the bungled handling of Meddie Kagere and Godfrey Walusimbi’s transfers, has finally caught up with them.

Even as Gor Mahia players put on brave faces as they trotted past the mixed zone to their bus after the match, captain Harun Shakava admitted the defeat was hurting.

“I think fatigue cost us. We had asked FKF and KPL to reschedule some of our matches and give us time to rest, but they denied us. We have played many matches in the last few weeks, yet we have two big matches (Sofapaka and AFC Leopards) this week before travelling to Algeria,” Shakava told Standard Sports.

“Players like Tuyisenge (Jacques) were even forced to play with injuries.It is going to be tough in Algeria, but I cannot predict the result. In football anything is possible. We just need to cope up with the environment and tempo in Alger.

“At the moment, all the players are down after our unbeaten home run ended abruptly, but we are big players and I’m confident we will bounce back strongly,” he added.

K’Ogalo were evidently a shadow of their swashbuckling display. Rayon defended resolutely, hit them on the break with the duo of Bonfils Caleb and Kevin Muhire keeping their defenders on toes.

To be fair, Gor has been slowly deteriorating physically in the last three weeks or so as they played six matches within 16 days before suffering a big blow with Walusimbi’s recent controversial move to South African side  Kaizer Chiefs.

Midfielder Humphrey Mieno said Walusimbi’s absence was heavily felt on Sunday.

“I don’t think Walusimbi’s exit has affected the morale of the other players, but him leaving is a big blow. Everyone knows the kind of play he is and the in-put he gives whenever he plays.”

But I think we still have quality players, who can fill that void,” said Mieno.

“Of course it is a devastating feeling. We were at home and expected to win this game, but we didn’t turn up for the match today. We hope to pick ourselves up and do better away from home regardless of the history there.”

But wins over Sofapaka and AFC Leopards, would not only give Gor the title, they would give them a massive psychological lift ahead of the final round of the continental competition’s group stage.

It will also be a perfect opportunity for Dylan Kerr’s men to snap out of the mental state that saw them lose their first continental group match.