Equatorial Guinea side Leones Vegetarianos face KPL champs in Machakos.
Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia return to the CAF Champions League today (3pm) hoping to improve on a dismal performance in recent continental outings when they host little known Leones Vegetarianos of Equatorial Guinea in the first leg of the preliminary round at Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos County.
Despite failing to go past the preliminary round in recent outings, a fully-fit Gor Mahia go into the match as favourites following an impressive pre-season performance.
This will be K’Ogalo’s third competitive game of the season after Dylan Kerr’s side opened the KPL title defence campaign with an emphatic 4-0 victory over Nakumatt at the same venue last Saturday.
The win came barely a week after the 16 time local champions had beaten arch-rivals AFC Leopards 1-0 in the Super Cup encounter in Nakuru, the same venue they thrashed Ugandan side KCCA 4-2 in a friendly match.
A win on aggregate in the two-legged tie will earn Gor a ticket to the first round where they will face the winner between ASAC Concorde of Mauritania and Tunisia’s Esperance. A victory here will earn them a spot in the lucrative group stage.
Aware of what is ahead, Gor Mahia captain Harun Shakava has warned teammates against undermining their opponents as they aim to reach the Champions League group stage for the first time in many years.
“It is always difficult to play against a team you know nothing about. But we are prepared and ready to face them. Our goal is to reach the group stage and I believe we can achieve that, but we cannot afford to underestimate them,” Shakava told Standard Sports.
“We are going to take a cautious approach against them, capitalise on the home advantage-finish the job here, then wait and see what happens in Equatorial Guinea.
“Expectations are high but with the mood in the camp I am confident we will make everybody proud. We just need to carry our preseason form into the Champions League, score as many goals as possible and at least maintain a clean sheet.”
Prolific Ugandan-born Rwandese striker Meddie Kagere, who scored the first hat-trick of the season in the domestic league last weekend, was equally optimistic of a good outing.
“We don’t know anything about our opponents, but if we got four goals against Nakumatt, we can do the same on Saturday (today). The most important thing is to remain focused,” said Kagere.