CR Belouizdad and Gor Mahia are not that different. The two sides believe that their place is among the big boys of the CAF Champions League. But they do not have the history to back it up. The 2020/2021 season may just be the season for either of them to change the narrative.
CR Belouizdad Probable XI: Moussaoui – Belkither, Keddad, Bouchar, Benderrouya – Draoui, Mrezigue – Koukpo, Sayoud, Tabti – Ngombo (4-2-3-1).
Gor Mahia Probable XI: Mathews – Philemon, Joachim, Momanyi, Apudo – Wendo, Ondiek, Sydney – Onyango, Omalla, Miheso (4-3-3)
The first leg of this CAFCL First Round tie will be played at the July 6 Stadium, Algiers, on 23rd December 2020 from 9.45pm CAT.
What is at Stake?
Gor Mahia failed at this stage of the CAFCL in the 2018 and 2018/2019 seasons. Something good came out of those experiences. Although they dropped to the CAF Confederation Cup, they reached the group stage there on both occassions and established the hunger to accomplish the same in the CAF Champions League.
Sadly, for Gor Mahia fans, much of that squad has been dismantled and this year we get a very “new looking” K’ogallo in the CAFCL. In fact, their CAFCL season was almost a lost cause with off-field sagas and the Preliminary Round first leg loss to APR FC but two 90-minute goals saved their campaign.
They Kenyan Champions will be facing a team that looks more prepared for the CAF Champions League mission. CR Belouizdad (CRB) made high profile acquisitions in the transfer market – the most renowned being the rightback Belkither, from Club Africain. They learnt from their failure against Pyramids FC, last season, that you need individuals who can make the difference in addition to being organized and all that other basic stuff.
CR Belouizdad have looked the part this season. They are averaging two goals every match and have not conceded a goal so far – Algeria Ligue 1 or CAF Champions League.
What will the Match be like?
Franck Dumas’ team is also experiencing good competition for starting slots in this period of a busy football schedule. They somehow have two good players for each position despite not being Al Ahly, Sundowns or Esperance Tunis. We have not even seen Islam Bakir play yet.
The former CS Sfaxien winger may not even be needed against Gor Mahia. Another newly-signed winger, Marcelin Koukpo has started life well in Algiers and established himself as Dumas’ first choice. He will be flanked by the pacy Larbi Tabti. The duo should cause a lot of problems to Gor Mahia’s slow defenders.
Are you impressed? Still, the biggest threat that CR Belouizdad will pose is Amr Sayoud. Sayoud is famous for failing at Al Ahly. The Algerian side really fails to create chances when their talisman is off-form or off the field. Stop him and you go a great deal into stopping CRB.
Gor Mahia fans will be concerned that their team shows no real identity. They no longer have true star players (Kenneth Muguna? Not yet, man) and are struggling to get into their stride this early into the season. Gor Mahia has already lost an FKF Premier League match and shown itself to be vulnerable in the CAFCL.
Coach, Sammy Omollo “Pamzo” will predictably focus on limiting the damage in Algiers. It is not like Gor Mahia have a culture of dominating continetal matches anyway. But they are familiar with Algiers, having played both USM Alger and Hussein Dey in the recent past. He needs to play his most experienced men and advice them to be conservative as hell to frustrate their opponents. CR Belouizdad will not have fans to lift them.
Do I see Gor Mahia scoring? New signing, Tito Okello leaves a lot to be desired and they will be without Muguna in midfield. Pamzo will have to pick from his assortment of second strikers a combination that can grab an away goal. They have a chance. They will be relying on counter-attacks.
CR Belouizdad 2-0 Gor Mahia
CR Belouizdad are enjoying great form at the moment and it is hard to look beyond a home win for them. A trap on their path is underestimating Gor Mahia yet the Kenyan side is more experienced when it comes to CAF interclub competition.