What you need to know:
- The team's headache has been poor defending and lack of clinical finishers, areas Vaz Pinto has to deal with if they are to claim the title.
- The management also it's work cut out in ensuring the players' welfare is taken care off to avoid the endless strikes witnessed this season.
Another year, another elimination from Caf competitons. It is becoming an all too familiar script for record Kenyan football champions Gor Mahia.
Apart from failing to qualify for the Caf Confederation Cup group stage, Gor Mahia are likely to face a heavy penalty for assaulting a match referee during their return leg play-off match against Zambia’s Napsa Stars on Sunday.
Gor were eliminated 3-2 on aggregate at the Heroes Stadium in Zambia after having lost 1-0 in the first leg at the Nayo National Stadium on February 14.
In Sunday’s game, the Kenyan league champions were on course to qualify, but their hopes were dashed when they conceded a penalty in the 94th minute. Napsa’s Emmanuel Mayuka’ converted the penalty that bundled Gor out of the competition.
Napsa Stars called on the Confederation of African Football (Caf) to take disciplinary action against Gor for the assault on South African referee, Lebalang Mokete, and for destruction of lockers in the team’s dressing room.
As they wait on Caf's decision, Gor switch their attention back to the local league, where they face a huge task in defending their title and secure a fifth straight crown.
Gor Mahia began their journey in the continental campaign this season by eliminating APR of Rwanda 4-3 on aggregate in the preliminary round of the Caf Champions League in December. They were however knocked out in the first round 8-1 on aggregate by CR Belouizdad of Algeria, which led to their relegation to the Caf Confederation Cup playoffs.
Portuguese coach Carlos Vaz Pinto, who was brought in to ensure success on both the local and continental front, now faces a huge task to ensure his charges continue their dominance in the local league.
On Saturday, they will be away to Nzoia Sugar at Sudi Stadium in Bungoma. The hosts are yet to lose at home this season.
Gor have a had a shaky start to the season and are are ninth in the log with 16 points, 13 points behind league leaders Tusker, but have three games in hand.
One of the shock defeats K'Ogalo has suffered this season was 1-0 loss against league returnees Vihiga United on January 23 at Moi Sports Centre Kasarani Annex.
K’Ogalo striker Samuel Onyango has urged his teammates to focus on winning the Football Kenya Federation Premier League title so as to have another chance at continental action next year.
"We were almost there but what happened in our game against Napsa cannot be changed. It is now our duty to put all stops and defend the league again so that we can get a chance next year.
It was a really painful loss on Sunday considering that we were just minutes away from qualifying for the group stages," Onyango, who scored the first goal for Gor in the game, told Nation Sport.
Club Secretary General Sam Ochola urged the playing unit to focus on winning the league.
"To all our players who defied all odds, let us now embark on wining our 20th title because we will be back in the continental competitions after fixing our problems, a mission we have embarked on immediately," said Ochola in a statement on Tuesday.
Gor have acquired the services of former Bandari player Fred Nkata and Brazilian Wilson Silva Fonseca. K'Ogalo has so far released teenage sensation Dickson 'Agwambo' Raila and Malawian Andrew Malisero.
The team's headache has been poor defending and lack of clinical finishers, areas Vaz Pinto has to deal with if they are to claim the title.
The management also has it's work cut out in ensuring the players are paid promptly to avoid the endless strikes witnessed this season.