A difficult task of advancing to the last four of the competition was made more so, because going into the second leg in Morocco, the Kenyan champions must do what they have not achieved before; win an away fixture for the first time in the tournament.
Before the defeat to Berkane, Gor Mahia’s home record was unblemished. They won all their group matches and so booked a place in the knockout stage for the first time in their history.
The Green Army started their campaign away from the charm and support of their fans to Petro Atletico in Angola. They lost the match 2-1 with Nicholas Kipkirui coming from the bench to score the sole goal for the Kenyan side.
That was not enough because Manguxi Ribiero and Tony Ribiero had already inflicted enough damage to dent Gor Mahia’s away hopes once more.
Poor decision-making by Ugandan full-back Shafiq Batambuze was to blame for Atletico’s opener in the 13th minute, and their second came after Tony Ribiero overran Charles Momanyi and headed past Boniface Oluoch in the 37th minute . Dennis Oliech and Jacques Tuyisenge were missing for Gor Mahia in that match.
The next away match for the Kenyan giants came on March 3rd when they faced Nasr Athlétique Hussein Dey of Algeria. Journeys to the North of the continent have always proved hard for the Green Army and this time around it was no different.
Although their capitulation was not as big as the previous ones, they fell to a 1-0 loss, the 10th-minute goal by Abderahmane Yousfi was enough to hand Hussein Dey the last laugh over the Kenyan side.
Gor Mahia, in the reverse fixture surprisingly pulled a off 4-2 win over the visiting opponents in Group D’s opener, which may have boosted their morale going into the fixture.
Two strikes in either half saw Gor Mahia fall to an eventual 4-0 defeat, as goals from Mahmoud Alaa (13’), Yousef Obama (25’,) Ferjani Sassi (84’) and Omar El-Said (86') condemned the Kenyan champions to another defeat in their final away game in the group stage. Quite a revenge from Zamalek after falling to a similar defeat in Nairobi.
Gor Mahia coach Hassan Oktay has admitted that it will be difficult to overturn the first leg defeat against the North African side, but ensured they will fight to the end on Sunday.
Without key players – left-back Shafik Batambuze, midfielder Ernest Wendo, and striker Jacques Tuyisenge - who are suspended - as well as the injured goalkeeper Boniface Oluoch, coach Oktay says the game is definitely going to be tough.
“Batambuze and Wendo are experienced players who can have a positive influence on any team. Too bad we will not have them,” Oktay told Goal in an exclusive interview.
“To get a win, you also need your lead striker, but Tuyisenge is out because of the suspension. Also remember that Boniface Oluoch is out injured, meaning we will not have four key players. It is a blow to us, and it will make it even tougher.”
The Cypriot has also said the biggest mistake was to fall at home, but the tactician has avoided pointing fingers.
“We were not in our correct state of mind when we played in the first leg. I really don't know who to blame, but we all know what happened. The biggest mistake was to allow them to claim a 2-0 win at home, we could have done better," he added.
RS Berkane have not lost any of their 13 Caf matches played at home in a run that stretches back to 2015.