CAF: Gor Mahia praying for perfect start tonight

By Gilbert Wandera and Rodgers Eshitemi: Wednesday, November 28th 2018 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Football
Gor Mahia striker Jacques Tuyisenge reacts after scoring in a past match. []

K’Ogalo host Malawi champions Nyasa Bullets in the Africa Champions League first leg preliminary match at Kasarani.

Last season, Gor Mahia made history by becoming the first Kenyan club to play in group stages of the Caf Confederations Cup tournament.

Playing in Caf’s group stages is a major achievement as it comes with a major financial reward.

Incidentally, Caf Champions League winners Esperance of Tunisia eliminated Gor Mahia from the first leg of the tournament, relegating the Kenyan champions to the Confederations Cup.

Can it be better this time for Gor Mahia? The Kenyan champions start their quest for glory in continental football today from 7pm at Kasarani Stadium against Nyasa Bullets of Malawi.

It’s also the first competitive match for stand-in coach Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno, who has taken over since Dylan Kerr resigned last week.

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The former international faces a tall order in trying to win over fans and a convincing win today will go along way in doing just that.

Despite some disruptions in their squad, Gor Mahia have maintained virtually the same squad that took them to the group stages of the Confederations Cup last season.

Even the sudden departure of Kerr is not expected to affect the team considering core players are still with the club. Team captain Harun Shakava believes they will move on smoothly without their former tactician.

“It’s obviously disappointing to lose Kerr but we are professionals and we are ready to work with anyone. It is not the first time this is happening,” he said.

K’Ogalo had an impressive run last season losing to Esperance (1-0 on aggregate) in the first round. 

They then lost 4-0 to English Premier League side Everton in a historic SportPesa Trophy friendly match on November 6 in Liverpool, United Kingdom.

“The mood in the team is encouraging. We are all prepared and ready to give our best. We have new players in the team and are all excited at the prospects of playing in the biggest club competition in the continent,” Otieno, who plays both as a midfielder and defender, told The Standard Sports.

“We just came back from England two weeks ago after playing against one of the best teams in English Premier League. That’s a great motivation to us as we approach the Nyasa game.”

“I think we’ve learnt a lot from both the Goodison Park trip and last season’s performance in the continental competitions. Right now, we know what to expect in the Champions League and how to approach the matches.”

However, the former Ushuru midfielder, has urged his teammates to approach the match, whose reverse tie will be played on December 5 in Malawi, with the seriousness it deserves.