Gor Mahia risk fielding only eight players in Morocco after chaotic travel itinerary
Gor Mahia chairman Ambrose Rachier has opened up to the possibility of his side lining up with only eight players in Sunday evening’s continental assignment away to RS Berkane.
The Kenyan champions lost 2-0 at home against the Moroccan club last weekend and now need to win this return leg clash by three clear goals to progress to the semi-finals of the Caf Confederation Cup.
But then K’Ogalo’s trip to Berkane has been dogged by controversy and challenges including late air ticket bookings by the government and mechanical problem to the Kenya Airways flight the side was initially supposed to travel in.
Things got worse on Saturday when a section of the players posted pictures of themselves sleeping on the floor at an airport in Doha, Qatar.
But in an exclusive phone interview with Nairobi News on Sunday morning from Berkane, Rachier said the delayed bookings forced him to transport the players and officials to the North African country in four batches.
Two of those batches travelled via Doha, Qatar, while the other batches navigated through France and Dubai.
By midday on Sunday (Kenyan time), only eight players, coach Hassan Oktay and his assistant Zedekiah Otieno had arrived in Berkane for the game.
According to Rachier, the remaining group (consisting of eleven players, technical bench members and administrators) were still finding their way to Berkane (from the capital Casablanca) by road.
The 608km road trip takes an estimated seven hours.
“We expect the remaining lot here in Berkane at around 5pm Moroccan time (about 7pm Kenyan time). The match kicks off at 10pm,” Rachier told Nairobi News.
“If they don’t get here on time, we will use what we have, that is the eight players, including a goalkeeper. The laws allow us that,” he said.
Fifa rules allow a match to go ahead if a team has atleast seven players.
“A match shall not be considered valid and shall be abandoned by the referee if fewer than seven players remain on the pitch at any given time,” Fifa’s rules on the minimum number of players state.
Rachier also hinted that this match was a lost cause and that his team will only be looking to honour the fixture.
“I cannot assure you we will win or not. We are here to play the match and ensure we avoid the consequences of not honouring the fixture,” he said.
The match kicks off at 10pm (Kenyan time).