What you need to know:
- The club’s goose was cooked the moment the players chose to stage a mini riot smack in the middle of the pitch at the final whistle.
- We can live with such juvenile misdemeanor in nondescript neigbourhood tournaments, but not at the highest level of competition.
In the face of a logistical nightmare that forced Gor Mahia to delay their travel plans until match day as they sought to turn the tables on Zambia’s Napsa Stars last weekend, even the club’s most ardent fans must have realised how tough it was going to be for the team to climb out of the deep hole they had dug themselves into.
But who would have guessed that K’Ogalo’s exit from continental football this season would have degenerated into a cat and mouse game between the club’s aggrieved players and the match referee? I mean, chasing the match referee around the pitch like a common thief?
Strangely, in the wake of the K’Ogalo’s bitter implosion, there was a sustained effort by the club’s loyal followers to justify the absurd, if not comical scene, that played itself out at the end of the match in Lusaka.
In the eyes of Gor Mahia’s diehards on social media, the match referee was indeed a ‘thief’ who robbed their team in broad daylight with a controversial penalty deep into stoppage that extinguished K’Ogalo’s hopes of progressing into the group stage of the Caf Confederation Cup.
One cheeky fan blamed the referee for taking to his heels while all the players wanted to do was to have a chit chat with him.
Then came the counter claims by the club’s leadership absolving the players of any wrongdoing, never mind numerous pictures and video footage that captured the cornered match referee cowering in terror with a handful of Gor Mahia players closing in.
The club chairman, Ambrose Rachier, even went as far as terming ‘improper’ the said images, which were widely circulated on social media.
Rachier claims the ruckus was caused by Napsa fans who invaded the pitch after the match as Gor Mahia players sought an explanation from the referee on some “questionable decisions” which sealed the team’s fate.
I find Rachier’s explanation preposterous. In a game of football you don’t confront the match officials at the end of the game to question their calls.
If you genuinely feel aggrieved, there are clearly spelt out channels of lodging complaints.
Given the way Gor Mahia players vented their frustration, it’s not surprising that the club has chosen not to seek legal redress from Caf.
The club’s goose was cooked the moment the players chose to stage a mini riot smack in the middle of the pitch at the final whistle.
Whichever way you look at it, the conduct of Gor Mahia players in Lusaka was not only amateurish and shameful, it also depicted a picture of sour losers.
It is the kind of conduct you would only expect from off-season estate tournaments such as Koth Biro, and this with all due respect to the organisers of such tournaments.
I once witnessed a funny incident during an estate tournament when one player from the losing team smashed dozens of bottles on the pitch to make the turf ‘unplayable’ now that his team had been bundled out.
We can live with such juvenile misdemeanor in nondescript neigbourhood tournaments, but not at the highest level of competition.