Kenya: Troubled Gor Face 18-Hour Air, Rail Journey to Algiers

20 December 2020

Gor Mahia face a marathon journey to Algiers beginning today at 8pm for their CAF Champions League first round, first leg match against home side CR Belouizdad.

The match is scheduled for Wednesday at the August 20 1955 Stadium.

On Saturday, the players boycotted a scheduled training session at Camp Toyoyo ground in Nairobi, instead holding charged meeting with the technical bench over two months salary arrears they say they have not been paid.

And it is not clear if the players will board the plane. By yesterday evening they had not heard word from the club management on their unpaid dues with many saying in confidence they would not play without pay.

According to Gor Mahia's travel itinerary, they will make a five-hour flight from Nairobi to Cairo tonight. After a one and a half hour stop-over the Kenyan champions will then jump into a flight for Tunis that is estimated will take three and a half hours.

It is from Tunis to Algeria that the north African adventure gets interesting.

Algerian air space is still closed to non-cargo flights as a measure to contain the coronavirus pandemic, meaning they cannot travel by plane.

The record 19-times Kenyan champions will thus board a train in Tunis for Algiers, which is 823km away from the Tunisian city and will take an estimated six hours.

And that will be after spending at least two hours in the Tunisian capital city.

Presumably weary Gor will arrive in Algiers at 2pm tomorrow and have just a day to recover before taking on the Algerian champions.

But this journey is by no means guaranteed.

The team had yet to confirm their tickets. And even though the players had undertaken Covid-19 tests it remains to be seen whether they will be allowed to travel by land in Tunisia without visas of that country.

Gor Mahia Secretary General Sam Ochola told Nation Sport that they were working hard on the logistics.

"The issue of tickets is still being sorted out but we want to thank the government for helping us again and giving us allowances and accommodation money. We are sure things will go on well so that the team can leave tomorrow (Sunday) night," said Ochola.

K'Ogalo assistant coach Patrick Odhiambo said that even though it will be a long journey, they are ready to fight and get a favourable result.

"We expect to leave on Sunday night. Our host has assured us that they will send a train to pick us up in Tunis. We intend to win the game because we have a whole day (Tuesday) to train and feel their pitch," said Odhiambo.

Posta Rangers coach Sammy "Pamzo" Omollo will act as Gor Mahia stand-in coach in the match. The return leg will be played at Nyayo stadium on January 5.

This will be the third consecutive season K'Ogalo will be meeting an Algerian side in African competitions.

In the 2019/20 season Gor failed to qualify for the group stage after being eliminated by Algerian giants USM Algiers 6-1 on aggregate.

In the 2018/19 season, Gor knocked out NA Hussein Dey 2-1 on aggregate in a Confederation Cup group encounter.

Gor Mahia eliminated APR of Rwanda 4-3, while CR Belouizdad knocked out Al Nasri of Libya 4-0 on aggregate in their respective preliminary round encounters earlier this month.

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