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Crunch moment for Kenyan champions Tusker against Arta

FOOTBALL By Washington Onyango | September 18th 2021
Tusker's Joshua Ibrahim celebrates after scoring against Arta Solar during the Caf Champions League preliminary match played in Djibouti. [Courtesy-Tusker FC]

Advantage Tusker will host Djiboutian side Arta Solar in the return leg of the CAF Champions League preliminary round at Nyayo Stadium today (4pm) with an aim of proceeding to the next round.

The FKF Premier League champions are carrying an away goal advantage ahead of the tie after their 1-1 draw with the Djiboutian champions in Djibouti City last weekend.

In the first leg match played at the Hassan Gouled Stadium, new signing Joshua Ibrahim broke the deadlock for the brewers in the 14th minute only for the hosts to restore parity a minute later.

The match proceeded with no more goals but what must Tusker do to sail through to the next phase?

Just like in the first leg, head coach Robert Matano knows how an early goal today will be important to them.

Fresh from winning Coach of the Year award, Matano believes they will score goals at Nyayo after getting an away under difficult conditions. 

“Everyone gave their best in the hot humid temperatures which showed the resilience and flexibility of the team when things are not going as planned but now we are home,” said Matano.

“I expect goals today. The team has been preparing well for the past four days and now we have to execute our plans well.”

Again, in the first leg, the brewers failed to defend their lead and worse off all conceded through a set piece which is unfamiliar with the local champions.

Containing pressure and defending set pieces will be key in Tusker’s success just as Matano says.

“We conceded from a set piece which is always unlikely for us and those are some of the mistakes we are going to rectify ahead of the second leg. Defending well and being clinical in attack will take us to the next stage,” explained the three-time FKF PL winner.

The Djiboutian side boasts of former Arsenal and Barcelona midfielder Alex Song, former AS Monaco forward Alain Traore and former forward West Ham of Diafra Sakho but Matano is unfazed saying his players are ready to upset them.

The experienced Matano said he was impressed with the performance of his new signings led by custodian Brian Bwire, Charles Momanyi, Clyde Senaji, Ibrahim Joshua and Daniel Sakari. 

Tusker returned to the Champions League after four years in the cold and will be attempting to qualify for the next round after they lost to AS Port-Louis 2000 of Mauritius in the early stages of the campaign in 2017. They lost 3-2 on aggregate.

If the brewers knock out Arta Solar, they will meet Egyptian giants Zamalek in the first round with the first leg set for October 15-17.


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