What Gor Mahia must do to get a favourable result against RS Berkane in Morocco

Goal Kenya.
The Kenyan champions must win by at least a two-goal margin to be assured of advancing to the semi-finals of the competition

Gor Mahia will face the uphill task of overturning a 2-0 defeat suffered in the first leg of the Caf Confederation Cup when they face Renaissance Sportive Berkane of Morocco on Sunday.

An own goal from Francis Kahata and a Barke El Helali strike sealed the important win for the North African side ahead of the return leg in Rabat.

The Kenyan champions haven't won an away match in Caf competitions this season, the best they managed was a 0-0 draw against Cameroonian side New Stars in the first round of the Caf Champions League.

It will even be harder for Hassan Oktay's side to perform away without their top scorer Jacques Tuyisenge, their dependable left-back Shafik Batambuze and defensive midfielder Ernest Wendo, who are suspended.

Captain Harun Shakava will return to the side, and coach Oktay will take up his position in the dugout after missing the first leg, also due to a one-match ban.

Oktay has admitted that it will not be easy for the side in Morocco.

“Winning away by three goals will be difficult for us, we are as good as out but we will give our best. We want to fight and who knows, this is football and anything can happen,” Oktay told Goal in an interview.

To make things even worse, the East African side have often struggled against North African opponents and they know they will have to dig deep in order to get the unlikely win. So what should they do to return home victorious?

Avoid conceding early goal

Geoffrey Ochieng of Gor Mahia v RS Berkane.

Of the seven goals that Gor Mahia have conceded away, five have come in the first half; K’Ogalo have a tendency to start slowly and that has come back to haunt the team because they often don't recover.

Of the three matches played away this campaign, Gor Mahia have never come from behind to collect even a point. The only time they managed to respond to going behind was when they beat Egyptian side Zamalek 4-2 in the Group stage at Kasarani Stadium. 

Avoiding conceding early against Berkane might help Gor Mahia settle and score the important first goal, and in turn push for the second one and get the result they need to advance to the last four.

Let the wingers to do the job

Gor Mahia's top scorer Jacques Tuyisenge will miss the second leg, which means they will not have their talismanic front man to look to for inspiration.

However, the wingers have been extremely effective for Gor Mahia this campaign, and have directly contributed to six out of the eight goals the team has scored so far in the competition.

They have pace and are intelligent on and off the ball, and involving them regularly could be key. The likes of Kenneth Muguna, Francis Kahata, and Lawrence Juma should feed the wingers as often as possible to ensure they get many chances to created goal-scoring opportunities.

Management should motivate players

Lawrence Juma of Gor Mahia v RS Berkane.

When motivated well, Gor Mahia can be a formidable side, capable of defeating top sides when at their best physically and psychologically.

But before they played against RS Berkane in the first leg, Gor Mahia players opted to skip training as they protested failure by club’s top brass to pay their winning bonuses and allowances accrued from Caf and league matches.

The decision was not taken lightly by coach Oktay, who hit out at the management for failing to motivate the team at the hour of need.

“It is not a secret, everyone is aware of what has been going on, the players were not prepared for the match. They have missed what could have been important sessions before the game," Oktay told Goal in an interview.

“Remember we played on Wednesday in the league and it could have been vital for us to have training sessions to plan for the game and that did not happen.

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“Bringing players for such a huge game knowing that they are not well motivated is not easy, they were not ready psychologically and you could see.”

For the away match, the office should prepare the team psychologically by clearing their dues and promising them huge bonuses should they advance.

Money can do miracles, and that could be the motivation Gor Mahia need to get past their North African counterparts.