Legend Dawo asks Gor to draw Esperance inspiration from class of ‘87
If the clock had been turned three decades back to 1987 when Gor Mahia FC played African giants Esperance in the Mandela Cup, the name Peter Dawo would still have been a dreaded mention in Tunisia.
The former Kenyan international scored a goal in each leg of the competition as Gor claimed a famous aggregate win over the North Africans, becoming the only East African Club to win the continental title.
Dawo and Abbas Magongo had been on target in the first leg as the visitors forced a 2-2 draw before heading home the goal that tied the return leg ended at 1-1 in Nairobi, ensuring Gor won away goal rule.
However, 31 years on, a lot has changed in both camps as they prepare to clash in the CAF Champions League on March 7 in Machakos before concluding their second round preliminary meeting 10 days later in Tunis.
K’Ogalo who recently celebrated their 50th birthday will look to uplift their souls even higher with a breakthrough to the coveted Champions League group stage at the expense of the former champions.
Dawo concedes the Khaled Ben Yahya coached side is a class above Gor, but insists they are beatable.
“To be honest they (Esperance) are way ahead of Gor in almost all aspects, but it is even sweeter to beat such a team. The only part of history the current team needs to carry into this match is that we (Gor Mahia) silenced them in 1987.
“If I was the coach, I would do my best to ensure the players drop that feeling they are facing giants. If it must occur, then they must remember giants also fall,” Dawo, who was a master of finishing off set-pieces in his prime, charged.
According to him, Dylan Kerr’s charges can draw inspiration from their heroics, noting even then Esperance was fully a professional club while Gor was run in a rather amateurish fashion.
“You don’t fear names and facilities. We were not fully professional; because we used to work for our different employers then we would gather to train. Our current team is now professional, and no debate its composition is good enough for continental challenge,” Dawo averred.
In their last meeting, Esperance sunk Gor 3-2 at home before demolishing them 5-0 in their return leg in Tunis.
With a record of humiliating visiting teams in Tunis, including their opponents in the first round preliminary of the current campaign (ASAC Concorde – Mauritius) who soaked in five, Dawo advised Gor ‘to qualify in the first leg’ at Machakos against the North Africans.
“Had we started away it would have been better. However, the only way is to win at home with a goal or two and avoid conceding. That way the return leg will be an open game.
“Against Vegetarianos we lost several chances at home. The margin we should have taken to Guinea (Equatorial) was about four goals. Every open chance must be converted at home, because the North Africans are very tricky to handle in their backyards,”
He recalled how on several occasions Toufiq Hicheri, a member of Esperance’s 1987 team, technically gouged his eyes with the referee missing the action that was supposed to provoke him.
“They (Gor) must be alert throughout the match because every new day they (North Africans) have new tricks to bring you down. I was aware of their tricks to provoke players, so I ignored him as fans shouted to the referee to caution him. They can easily trick referees to undeserving calls,” concluded Dawo.
Unlike Dawo’s time when almost every member of the team was in Harambee Stars, only four players in the current composition boast of places in team.
In the same vein, speaking to Citizen Digital upon arrival from Equatorial Guinea, Gor CEO Lordvick Aduda underlined the teams’ determination to make the group stage which in the new CAF format, guarantees clubs Ksh. 50 million.
“Getting a draw away to West Africa is not a mean achievement (the 1-1 draw against Vegetarianos), thus we are inspired as we focus on Esperance.
“We are not postponing our Kenyan Premier League (KPL) fixtures because of the match. The secret is to play more and be in the finest shape before we meet them,” told Aduda.
He called on all stakeholders to rally behind Gor, saying the assignment at hand is national.
“We will need passion and love for the game to bring supporters to the stadium on a Wednesday. For them they are guaranteed huge home support, because it will be on a Friday (on 17th) which is a holiday in the Arabs world,” he said.
In the event Gor misses a group stage slot in the Champions League; they will be relegated to the CAF Confederations Cup which Kenya’s representatives AFC Leopards exited despite registering a 0-0 draw away to Madagascar against FOSA Juniors.