Kenya premier league champions Gor Mahia plan to move to the group stages of the CAF champions league remained a dream as they fell 4 -1 to USM Alger in the first leg.
You cant blame K’Ogalo players as the team has been experiencing a strain of misfortunes as from lack of finances with even the trip to Algeria being doubtful till they received help from the government in purchasing air tickets.
It was an advantage for Steven Polack led side which took just 16 minutes to place themselves under pressure.
Defensive lapses allowed the hosts into the danger zone and Moroccan Muaid Ellafi managed to slip in a cross between the defenders.
Mohamed Meftah did not hesitate to take a one-time shot which K’Ogalo custodian Robert Mapigano could not keep out.
The home team were not done, they kept knocking at Gor Mahia’s danger zone in search of more goals.
Their efforts paid dividends when a perfect one-two between Ben Khalifa and Zakaria Benchaa caught the defenders off-guard in the 43rd minute.
Mapigano had no option but to try and salvage the situation, and in the process, he was adjudged to have bought down the striker although the replays suggested otherwise.
Meftah rose for the occasion and kept his cool to complete his brace.
With a few seconds to the break, the lively Benchaa was fed the ball on the edge of the 18-yard box, he spotted the custodian out of position before taking a shot.
His curler was helped into the net by the woodwork and by the time the referee blew the first-half whistle, Gor Mahia looked dejected.
Despite finishing the first half on a low, K’Ogalo came back stronger as they aimed at getting an away goal. However, their hosts remained disciplined at the back and cleared any looming danger.
In the 57th minute, pressure by Gor Mahia paid dividends when a defender handled the ball in the danger zone. Kenneth Muguna converted the resulting penalty to hand his team a lifeline.
USM restored their three-goal advantage with a quarter of an hour to go when Mapigano failed to keep out Haddouche’s free-kick. The ball came off the woodwork and fell kindly to Benchaa who made no mistake from six-yards.