Gor Mahia hope to seal quarter final slot in Dar es Salaam
Three points for Gor Mahia on Sunday night in Dar es Salaam Tanzania will almost guarantee them a slot in the quarter final of the CAF Confederations Cup. The 16-time Kenyan Premier League champions are second on the table with five points and a win will take them to eight with two rounds of group matches remaining.
Having beaten the Tanzanians 4-0 in the first leg in Nairobi eight days ago, Gor go into the national stadium in Dar with a bit of confidence, knowing they can as well get a similar result and boost their hopes of making history as the first Kenyan club to play the Confederation Cup quarter finals.
“There is a lot of expectation on us obviously because of the 4-0 result in the first leg and there will be massive pressure on us to perform. But it is going to be very difficult. This is football and football has a habit of kicking you where it hurts most,” Gor Mahia boss Dylan Kerr said as the team departed for Dar late Friday night.
Yanga have not had a stable pre-season back in Tanzania and that has come to cost them with results on the pitch not favouring them at all. Kerr knows that despite those problems, the home side will be boosted with thousands of fans who will come out in their decibels on Sunday.
Having worked in Tanzania where he coached Simba SC in 2015, Kerr knows that it will not be an easy walk down at the national stadium.
“They are a force to reckon with there and their fans are massive. They will also want to prove a point having come under heavy criticism for the loss in the first leg,” added Kerr.
His sentiments are echoed by Captain Harun Shakava who has called on his teammates not to take the game lightly because of the first leg result.
“It will not be easy. If we go in casually, it will be at the risk of losing and jeopardizing our dream. We have to play our hearts out and get a win. I am confident we can do so but only if we put in 100 percent effort each,” the captain said.
The last time these two sides met was in 2015 during the CECAFA Club Championship where Gor won 2-1 with Shakava scoring one and ex-striker Michael Olunga, now playing in the Chinese second tier scoring the other.
The team comes into the match on the end of a tight week that saw them play the local Mashemeji Derby on Sunday beating arch rivals AFC Leopards 2-1 before playing against Posta Rangers in a Cup clash on Wednesday winning 3-1 against Posta rangers despite Kerr having fielded a second string side.
Despite an element of fatigue threatening to kick in, Kerr is confident his players will be fresh.
“I gave the players two days rest and I am hoping they are okay right now. I have a fantastic group of players who are always hungry to perform and hungry to sweat for that green jersey,” added the British tactician.
He will be boosted with the availability of defender Joash Onyango who missed the first leg due to suspension while George Odhiambo will also be back from injury after playing in last weekend’s derby.
The only absentee for the game will be midfielder Ernest Wendo who is still nursing a hamstring problem.