NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 12 – The prospect of facing some of the world’s top footballers, ones who you only get to watch on television and marvel at their talent and prowess is a motivation big enough for Gor Mahia defender Harun Shakava.
The former Kakamega Homeboyz man skippered K’Ogalo to their SportPesa Super Cup conquest with a 3-0 win in the final over arch rivals AFC Leopards, earning themselves a chance to face English Premier League side Everton FC in a friendly match on July 13.
“It is such a huge thing for us as players. The likes of Lukaku (Romelo), Barkley (Ross), Jagielka (Phil) are players we only watch on TV and now we have a chance of not only meeting them up close but playing against them. For any footballer, it is a huge thing,” the defender told Capital Sports from Dar es Salaam.
The Merseyside club, on their twitter handle confirmed they will be taking the sojourn to East Africa, being the first English Premier League club to play in Tanzania.
Shakava is excited ahead of the match, saying they deserve it after enduring a tough tournament in Dar es Salaam despite most of the key players missing.
“It feels great to have won the tournament. It was very tough but finishing without conceding a goal and scoring the highest number of goals really showed how hard we worked,” Shakava said.
They now hope they can replicate the same performance against Ronald Koeman’s men as it will also be a huge opportunity to audition themselves for a possible opportunity of playing European football.
“It is a big opportunity for us as players to play at such a big stage and against a very good team. We are motivated as players especially because it will be a chance to show we can match up with such kind of quality,” he said.
The defender added; “In football anything can happen. They might be stronger than us, but we will go there to compete. We will also want to show that we can beat one of the best.”
Meanwhile, head coach Jose Marcelo Ferreira who returned to the touchline in the final after missing the previous two games believes winning the tournament will charge them up enough to continue their domestic title.
K’Ogalo lead the standings with 27 points, only separated from defending champions Tusker FC on goal difference. The Brazilian coach hailed his charges for their gallant fight, saying he was impressed by their performance.
“It was a very good match because all teams came to the match to play. This is Gor Mahia and for us, everybody expects us to win and that is our mentality. We have to continue this way. This win has given us that motivation we need,” he added.
Meanwhile, AFC Leopards will need to strongly go back to the drawing board ahead of the league resumption as they remain winless in their last seven league matches.
Assistant coach Dennis Kitambi says they have picked lessons that will boost them ahead of the weekend tie against Mathare United.
“We lost because we didn’t start well in both halves and when Gor scored before us, it became hard. We have to go back home and re-strategize. We have to apologize to the fans because they expected us to win but we didn’t,” the Tanzanian who will deputize Romanian Dorian Marin said.
He however remains confident the club will rise back on top especially with a few new players set to join in.