It took an exhilarating skill of a header from Peter Dawo to snatch a late equalizer against Esperance. The 2-2 draw with the Tunisian league giants that would surely earn Gor Mahia and advantage going into the second leg of 1987 Mandela Cup.
An evenly balanced football game it was, test of character for a team rich in talent against an opponent so good and so determined. For starters, this Gor Mahia side had a captain in Austin Oduor who manned a defense line of Peter Otieno Basanga, George Otieno Solo and Tobias Ochola.
Also Read: How Gor Mahia booked tie with Esperance
The team was well set and ultimately bundled out Esperance in the return leg at Kasarani with President Moi watching and cheering. Gor Mahia were crowned champions of the defunct Mandela Cup. Fast forward, 31 years later, none of those players is in the team or anywhere near it.
They had their time, did their thing and went. But Gor Mahia, yet again, have been paired with the same opponent they bullied three decades ago.
They have no David Ochieng Kamoga in goal to pull the mind-blowing saves. Or George Nyangi ‘Artillery’ to dictate the game in midfield. But in their places perhaps, lie equally determined talents that are able to outplay the Tunisian outfit. Question is, will they?
It is the fist time Gor Mahia are into the Caf Champions League since 1996 when they were bundled out at the first round by Dymaos FC of Zimbabwe. But since 1987, Kogalo have been in the tourney on four different occasions.
Their best ever campaign being the quarter finals exit to Sudanese giants Al Hilal. Yet, their 1987 mates, Esperance, have won the Caf Champions League twice (1994 and 2011). And have also been finalists on four occasions.
It will therefore require an excellent form and luck. But the zeal often showed by Gor Mahia might as well purge them through the hurdle. They have an advantage, beginning the first round at home before traveling to Tunisia.
This is the time, in Dylan Kerr’s words, that the Kenyan reigning champions must fire all the cylinders to get the expected results. But they must be very afraid of an Esperance side who’s domestic and continental campaign over the years has been brilliant.