Gor Mahia bank on home form ahead of crunch match

By Rodgers Eshitemi: Sunday, April 7th 2019 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Football
Gor Mahia midfielder Francis Kahata against Nasr Athletic Hussein Dey from Algeria during their CAF Confederation cup group D match at Kasarani Stadium on Sunday 24/02/19. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Record Kenyan champions Gor Mahia will once again bank on their imperious home form in the CAF Confederations Cup when they clash with Morocco’s RS Berkane in today’s first leg quarterfinal tie at Kasarani Stadium.

K’ogalo seem to have turned Kasarani into a fortress, winning all their four Confederation Cup matches at home including the 2-1 group stage qualification match against New Star of Cameroon on January 20.

Hassan Oktay’s men then thrashed Egyptian giants Zamalek 4-2 in their opening Group D encounter before upsetting Algeria’s NA Hussein Dey and Petro Atletico from Angola 2-0 and 1-0 respectively.

Having already banked Sh35 million in prize money that came after securing their quarter-final ticket, the 17-time Kenyan champions target the Sh45 million prize purse if they beat the Moroccans on aggregate in the two leg match and eventually Sh125.7 million if they lift the trophy.

But as they seek to write another chapter into their rich history today, Gor Mahia will have to do without four of their suspended key players led by captain Harun Shakava, Shafik Batambuze, Jacques Tuyisenge and Ernest Wendo.

Head coach Hassan Oktay will also be serving a touchline ban imposed on him by continental body CAF for continuously protesting against the referee’s decisions in their 1-0 final group match home win over Petro Atletico.

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Despite the quartet’s absence, the Turkish-Cypriot is confident of a positive start in the first leg.

“Missing four main players through suspension at this stage of the competition is difficult for any coach. But we have enough depth and I am still optimistic those selected will deliver. We will try our best to make our fans proud,” said Oktay.

“It doesn’t matter whether I am in the technical area or not, my philosophy is in the team and we got connection with the players. I have an able assistant coach (Zedekiah Otieno) and top class players who can do the job. I trust my staff and I know we will perform well.

“But I urge the fans to turn up in large numbers and support the team. This is a big game for Kenya not just Gor Mahia.”

And in the absence of leading scorer Tuyisenge, legendary Kenyan striker Dennis Oliech is expected to lead the attack as Charles Momanyi partners with Joash Onyango in defence.    

While many will be keen on seeing Gor make it to the last four, the club’s CEO Lordvick Aduda has set his sights on winning the Africa title.

“We are focused to be lifting the trophy then the money will come as a bonus. “There are a lot of expenses involved in playing this competition, so if we win the trophy that’s when I think we would have done great business,” said Aduda.

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