NAIROBI, Kenya, January 31- Titleholders, Tusker FC who are Kenya’s representatives at the CAF Champions League believe they possess enough ammunition to brew a successful campaign on their return to continental competition.
The team unveiled their 11 new signings on Tuesday exuding confidence they would also mount a triumphant defence of the domestic title they won for the first time since 2007 last season.
“It’s just wise that when you are playing tough tournaments, you need to have strong players. We signed wholesale since we needed quality players in attack, midfield and defence,” head coach Sammy Omolo said.
“This season is going to be very tough and we believe we shall have strong challenges from teams here and in the CAF competition. I believe we are equal for that challenge and we have recruited well and Tusker are stronger than last season it’s only for us to work hard and do things right,” he added.
Former captain and Kenyan international, Jerry Santos, who left the side for Tanzania’s Simba SC, is among the signings and he is relishing the chance to make a victorious prodigious return to the team.
“I did my calculations and Tusker was where I ended up deciding. I’m aiming to bring back the experience I learnt in Tanzania playing for a top side and I believe Tusker will go places this season,” the midfielder charged.
Also coming in after protracted transfer negotiations with Sofapaka FC who featured at last year’s CAF Confederations Cup is forward Patrick ‘Petit’ Kagogo.
“After three years at Sofapaka where despite injury, I made the squad with so many able players competing for the same position, I decided to make a move to try out a new challenge and progress at another club,” the Congolese born pacy attacker stated.
Keeper George Opiyo has been brought in from Sofapaka as cover for Boniface Oluoch with Peter Opiyo (Thika United), Obadiah Ndege (KRA), David Ochieng, Luke Ochieng (KCB), Kenneth Wendo (Thika United), Andrew Mulunga (Bandari FC), Fredrick Onyango (Sony Sugar) and James Macharia (Karuturi Sport) have linked up with the Brewers.
Tusker will play Rwandese side APR on the weekend of February 17 to 19 in the first leg of their preliminary round of the CAF Champions League in Nairobi with the return fixture a fortnight later in Kigali.
The aggregate winners of the tie will face the acid test of Tunisian giants Etoile Sahel on the weekends of March 23 and 25 as well as April 6 and 8 in the competition’s first round.
“We monitored the players for the whole of last season and we are pleased they are with us for the new season. They will give us solidity at the back and pace upfront in addition to helping in the rotation of the squad for the many competitions,” coach Omollo explained.
Tusker have made six previous forays in the continental showpiece club competition with a second round appearance in the 2001 season marking their furthest progression in the tournament where the champions earn $1 million (Sh83m) as well as an appearance at the FIFA Club World Cup.
“There is no reason why the squad should not aim to qualify for the money bracket of this competition where top clubs such as Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea or Barcelona will notice their talent.
“Our aim is to provide an environment where our players build a career out of football and we will continue putting measures in place to ensure we realise this goal,” Tusker FC chairman, James Musyoki, said during the unveiling ceremony.
Tusker open their season with a Dstv/SuperSport Cup clash against Gor Mahia in Nairobi who will fly Kenya’s flag at the Confederations Cup in a fixture Omollo is looking forward as an early test of their credentials for the upcoming campaign.
“Both sides have recruited massively in readiness for the continent and we are taking the match as an indicator of how far we have come as we prepare for the year.”
Gor won the domestic cup competition last season.