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Tusker ready for Champ League date with Alex Song’s Arta Solar

FOOTBALL By Washington Onyango | August 15th 2021
Tusker FC players celebrate after winning a past match.[Courtesy-Tusker FC]

Tusker coach Robert Matano is optimistic the club will perform well in the upcoming CAF Champions League competition despite lacking enough time to rest ahead of the continental matches kick off slated for next month.

The current FKF Premier League leaders were on Friday drawn against Alex Song’s Arta Solar of Djibouti in the preliminary round of the Champions League.

The first leg of the Champions League preliminary round will be played in between September 10-12 with the second leg planned for September 17-19.

With the FKF Premier League set to end on August 28, Tusker will have less than 12 days to prepare for the two-legged encounter but Matano appears unbowed.

Speaking to Standard Sports, Matano who is two games away from reclaiming the Premier League title they lost to Gor Mahia in 2016, said they will be much prepared than Arta Solar who are currently in preseason with the Djiboutian league having ended in April.

“First, I am happy that we achieved one of our goals of playing in the Champions League again after almost five years in the cold. But I believe we are gaining fitness than them considering we are playing at the moment and they are not,” said Matano.

“Of course time management will be important to ensure every player is in good shape but we expect new additions to the squad which will be revealed later.”

While Tusker got the ticket to Champions League courtesy of being Kenyan league leaders by June 30, Arta which is home to former Arsenal midfielder Alex Song won the Djibouti topflight league by amassing 46 points from 18 matches. 

Matano brushed off criticism on their qualification saying the brewers deserves to be in the continental showpiece and are ready to justify that by winning the domestic title.

“Tusker played well from the start of the season and we qualified as per the regulations imposed by CAF. We did not get a lottery ticket to the Champions League; we fought for it. Now, we are two games away from the title and we are going to do everything to win it,” roared Matano.

If the brewers beat Arta in the preliminary round, they will meet Egyptian giants Zamalek in the first round with the first leg set for October 15-17 and the second leg between October 22-24.

According to Tusker chairman Daniel Aduda they will beef up the team ahead of their Champions League return.

“Just like any other team preparing to play continental football, we are going to make some additions in the team.

“When the time comes we will make the signings but that will be dependent on the advice from the technical bench who will tell us which are the weak areas that we need to strengthen,” Aduda said.

Tusker opened a three point gap at the top of the FKF Premier League table after beating Kakamega Homeboyz 2-0 on Friday.

This is after their closest title rivals KCB lost 2-1 to relegation threatened Vihiga United.

Meanwhile, Gor Mahia, the FKF Cup holders, have received a bye to the first round of the Confederations Cup where they will meet the winner between Atlabara from South Sudan and Sudan’s Ahly Merowe.


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