Africa: Suspensions, injury leave Gor Mahia exposed in clash against Berkane in continental football

Kenya champions Gor Mahia face an uphill task to overcome the challenge from Renaissance Sportive de Berkane of Morocco in their Confederation Cup quarterfinal match later.

However, the Kenyan side will have to use available resources as it will miss the services of head coach Hassan Oktay, who was suspended in their last match against Petro Atletico. The Cypriot was sent to the stands by Moroccan referee Redouane Jiyed for questioning and protesting poor officiating and his assistant Zedekiah Otieno will stand in.

“It is business as usual. The coach will be in charge of all the preparations and I will only field in during the match. He is in charge,” said Otieno.

Five players goalkeeper Boniface Oluoch, Ugandan left back Shafik Batambuze, Ernest Wendo, top scorer Jacques Tuyisenge and Harun Shakava will also miss the clash either through suspension or injury.

Oktay has however expressed confidence that his players will cope well even in his absence.

“This club is blessed with good quality players so whether I am there or not, they know how to get the job done. Another thing is that I have been here long enough, and my players understand my philosophy because they are professionals,” he said.

Botswana referee Joshua Bondo will be in charge of the match assisted by Arsenio Chadreque from Mozambique and Souru Phasoane from Lesotho.

Gor Mahia’s hope their winning streak at home will not be halted by the Moroccan side as they eye the lucrative prize purse in the continental football. Gor are assured of 35 million shillings (350,000 US dollars) for having reached the last eight of the tournament.

A home win and a draw a way will see Gor Mahia secure passage to the semifinals but it is easier said than done as Renaissance Sportive Berkane of Morocco have pledged to start the game on a high note with all the guns blazing.

Former Gor Mahia star Jerim Onyango said they have high hopes the team will secure passage to the penultimate stage of the CAF competition.

“If we can manage a win at home or say, score two goals and avoid conceding, then I can say that we will be ready to go and frustrate RS Berkane at their own turf. We all know how it can be tough to play away after failing to pick a win and goals at home, so I urge the team to make sure that they get a good result in the first leg,” said Onyango.

Coach Otieno said it is imperative for Gor Mahia to keep a clean sheet in goal because, at the end of the day, the away goal rule counts. Shutting the fast RS Berkane wingers will be the key.