Kenyan champions beaten by USM in Algeria

By Gilbert Wandera: Thursday, August 30th 2018 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Football
Gor Mahia Francis Kahata and Abderaouf Benguit of USM Alger battle for ball possession during the CAF Confederation Cup match at Kasarani on Wednesday 16/05/18[Boniface Okendo,Standard]

Gor Mahia failed in their bid to make it to the quarter-finals of the Confederations Cup after going down 2-1 to USM Alger at the El Djezair Stadium in Algeria yesterday.

Goals by Prince Ibarra who netted in the 35th minute and Amir Sayoud in the 80th minute ensured the home team finished top of Group D with 11 points.

Gor Mahia’s only goal was scored by Jacques Tuyisenge in the 82nd minute with USM goalkeeper Mohammed Zemmamouche failing in a bid to claw the header off the line.

The goal was too little too late as Gor Mahia finished third in the group with eight points.

Rwanda side Rayon Sports joined USM in the quarter-finals after they edged out Yanga 1-0 in Kigali to finish the group matches on second spot with nine points.

Gor Mahia, who made history by becoming the first Kenyan team to make it to the group stages of the tournament were hoping to continue with their fairy run tale, but things were always going to be complicated after losing 2-1 to Rayon Sports in Nairobi ten days ago.

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Opportunity to progress

Going to Algiers, the Kenyan champions needed nothing short of a win but then again it looked like matters off the pitch would conspire to deny them an opportunity to progress.

Reports that Gor Mahia players spent the night in a North African airport on their way to Algiers was already causing jitters among the fans who however still hoped for the best as they posted goodwill messages to the team hours to the do or die fixture.

Knowing that only a win would guarantee them passage to the quarter-finals, the home team were quick off the blocks and forced a throw in and a free kick within the first five minutes.

Gor Mahia slowly clawed their way back back in the eighth minute when they won a corner from a goal bound effort. But the team  suffered a set-back one minute later when USM were awarded a penalty after Haroun Shakava handled in the box.

Odhiambo outstanding

Luckily for Gor Mahia, Mohammed Meftah  failed to score from the spot as he was denied by Peter Odhiambo.

Apart from saving the penalty, Odhiambo had a good afternoon making some crucial saves and repaid coach Dylan Kerr’s faith in him after he started ahead of Boniface Oluoch.

The match went into the break with Gor Mahia’s Ernest Wendo and Humphrey Mieno having been cautioned.

Odhiambo remained at his best even in the second half as he saved Gor Mahia once again in the 55th minute denying the North Africans another goal scoring opportunity.

Having won the KPL last weekend, Gor Mahia will now have to focus on winning the Sportpesa Shield and hope to have picked vital lessons from their sojourn on the second biggest stage in African football.

On the local scene, Wazito stunned AFC Leopards 2-1 in a KPL match played at Machakos Stadium yesterday.

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