19 March 2018

Kenya/Tunisia: Gor Mahia Decry Harsh Treatment in Tunis

The phrase "Welcome to Hell' may be the copyright of Galatasaray fans but at the 60,000-seater Stade Olympique Rades in Tunisia on Sunday, the demons were out in full force.

This was during the return match of the second round of Caf Champions League qualifiers, where local champions Gor Mahia came up against home team Esperance.

The hosts won 1-0 to progress to the tournament's group stage.

In the highly emotional and ill-tempered match, K'Ogalo players and technical bench members were assaulted, threatened and manhandled by Tunisian authorities, as the partisan home crowd chanted chauvinistic slogans.

Gor coach Dylan Kerr, his assistant Zedekiah Otieno, team manager Jolawi Abondo and goalkeeper trainer Willis Ochieng were all assaulted in the 90-minute melee, after which Kerr declared that "it was the worst football game" he has ever had to be part of.

"It was very scary and at one point we had to go into the pitch for our own security. We were all attacked. Willis was even roughed up and thrown to the ground by the stewards and when Zico went to help he was also assaulted.

"From the touchline I ducked and missed at least three objects made of hard plastic that had been aimed at us while the game was going on. The worst thing is that when I turned to look, I saw that it was a uniformed police officer aiming the missiles," Abondo told Nation Sport on Mondayfrom Tunis.

Gor CEO Lordvick Aduda said the club will launch an appeal through the Football Kenya Federation (FKF).

The stakes were indeed high for both teams, as the first leg clash had ended in a barren draw. This gave both teams equal chances of making it to the prestigious group stage where clubs are rewarded with a fat bounty worth Sh54 million.

The match had a three-minute stoppage just before half time, when the K'Ogalo technical bench ventured onto the pitch in a bid to escape missiles being launched from the stands.

The Esperance fans were protesting against what they thought was biasness from Botswana referee Joshua Bondo.

During the match that was beamed live online, Esperance coach Khaled Yahia was seen unlawfully entering the pitch twice in protest of the referee's decision.

He escaped with a verbal caution, although Fifa rules are clear that such an offence warrants more severe punishment, including a red card.

The local champions were however able to survive the intense hostility, but lost 1-0 courtesy of Anice Badri's goal.

Badri got his chance in the 21st minute, when he capitalized on a moment of poor clearance from Wesley Onguso and shot into the net giving Boniface Oluoch no chance.

The 16-time champions will now await their fate in the Caf Confederations Cup playoffs round, where Caf Champions League losers will be pooled against Confederation Cup first round winners.

The draw has been scheduled for Wednesday at Caf headquarters in Egypt, and possible opponents include Algeria's CR Belouizdad (Algeria), Al Masry of Egypt, Nigeria's Enyimba, CS La Mancha of Congo and SuperSport United of South Africa.

The team is expected back home on Wednesday. From Tunis, they fly to Doha and later connect to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi.


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