NAIROBI, Kenya, July 10- Tusker FC head coach Sammy Omollo is wary of their group opponents as they prepare to represent the country in the CECAFA Kagame Club Cup Championship which kicks off in Dar salaam, Tanzania on Saturday.
Speaking to Capital sport on Tuesday, Omollo said the fact he has never faced the two sides in Group B, Tanzanian league runners up Azam FC and Mafunzo from Zanzibar, has made him adjust his tactics in readiness for the regional tournament.
“I don’t have much information about the two sides, but given that Azam has two of our local players in their squads will pose a challenge for us
“However, all the teams participating in this tournament are strong in their respective domestic leagues so we definitely have to take them seriously,” he added before their afternoon training session.
The Kenya Premier League (KPL) title holders will play their opening match against Mafunzo on July 19 before they take on Azam on July 21 in their final group tie.
The Azam side is likely to parade their new acquisition, former Gor Mahia striker George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo alongside defender Ibrahim Shikanda for the game.
Omollo is of the view that the dates of the fixtures will give them an edge over the other teams since its gives them time to acclimatize to the weather conditions.
“The dates are so convenient for us, we will use the ample spare time we have to watch how the other teams are playing in their group stages
“Hopefully when we progress, we will be in a position to mount a strong challenge against these sides,” he stressed insisting they have put their early exit from the CAF Champions League behind them.
The tactician who currently leads the KPL on 36 points is banking on his charges to replicate their form in the tournament especially now that he only has one long term injury concern from Crispin Olando.
“I have a lot of depth in my squad who have been instrumental in our superb performance in the league which is a morale booster for us as we travel to Tanzania
“We are aware of the expectations and will be looking to enhance our playing unit and reward our fans and sponsors with good results, added Omollo.
Among the notable players in his squad are, Custodian Boniface Oluouch who was impressive between the posts for the national team against Malawi during the 2014 World Cup qualifier at the Moi International Sports Kasarani last month.
Others are captain Joseph Shikokoti, striker Dennis Mukaisi and midfielder Jerry Santos who has had a stint with Simba Fc of Tanzania.
In relation to the domestic league, the tactician added he is confident of retaining the title pointing out that performances against the current top teams will give them the push in their quest.
“Positive results against AFC Leopards who will face first upon our return, Ulinzi and Sofapaka are crucial in our title defence since they are our biggest threats at the moment
“However we will not underrate the rest of the teams but we hope to maintain the consistency throughout the second leg,” he said about the prospects of retaining the trophy, a feat that was last achieved by Ulinzi when they won the title three times in a row seven years ago.
Omollo is still bullish that the recent loss of his key players Paul Were to AFC Leopards and Brain Mandela to South Africa’s Santos will not have a major effect in his plans.
“Were was good but we have managed to find a fine replacement in Joshua Oyoo, but bear in mind we have managed to post remarkable results without Mandela when he was away for the trials”
The team is currently in residential camp at their Ruaraka grounds and will depart the country on Sunday for Tanzania.
11 clubs will contest the two week championship that will be broadcast live on Supersport across Africa.They include Tusker (Kenya), title holders Yanga, Simba and Azam from Tanzania, APR (Rwanda), Atletico (Burundi), Ports (Djibouti), URA (Uganda ), Mafunzo (Zanzibar),Wau Salam (South Sudan) and Vita club (DRC).
Yanga will begin their defense of the championship against Burundi’s Atletico on July 14.