NAIROBI, Kenya, April 5- Gor Mahia are set to re-enact ‘Mission Impossible’ when they take on Egyptian side ENPPI on Saturday in their CAF Confederation Cup first round return leg where they are trailing 3-0 on aggregate.
Head coach, Zrdavko Logarusic unveiled his final squad as injury for striker Edwin Lavatsa piled on the misery on K’Ogalo who are missing influential players still on the treatment table.
Lavatsa was taken to hospital for observation on his ankle on Friday as a precautionally measure but made the substitute’s bench for the tie that sees Rama Salim finally return to the starting XI after a long spell on the sidelines.
“I’m not so sure about him but I think psychologically, he is a bit shaky. We sent him for observation because I know some players would die to play in this game. I told him this is your game son but we will wait and see,” Logarusic said.
Salim will be partnered by Ugandan Dan Sserunkuma in attack with K’Ogalo counting on the partnership that almost fired them to the domestic title last season.
Victor Ali Abondo, Anthony Akumu, Joseph Njuguna and Kevin Omondi will patrol the midfield with Donald Mosoti, David Owino, Christopher Wekesa and Solomon Nasio on rearguard alongside custodian and captain, Jerim Onyango.
Besides Lavatsa, Innocent Mutiso, Musa Mohammed, Ivan Anguyo, Moses Odhiambo and keeper Ivo Mapunda complete the bench.
The Croat coach underlined the enormity of the task at hand as he tempered expectation among the Green Army faithful as he blamed naivety and defensive lapses from their first leg capitulation in Cairo.
“We paid the price for inexperience in the international game. The last time Gor Mahia won a continental cup, they had six starters in the national team, to day we have one.
“Their players were between 27 to 28 and we have most boys now between 18 and 22. We also have had bad luck with our best players in hospital and our striker Sserunkuma has not been training,” he lamented.
He called on other players in the squad to take the opportunity to underline their credentials on the international stage by giving ENPPI a good fight.
“It is time for the boys to become men. It is time for them to stop being called promising players and be players. That is what I told them because we cannot say we will not concede.
“We are playing against the current leaders of the Egyptian Premier League and we have to be realistic. But this is Kenya and after we lost the game, my players came to me and said they had messed up and we know we can deliver,” he added.
“We have been training well especially in finishing and crossing and our intention is to go all out in the first minutes to lift our fans,” Njuguna added.
The midfielder added: “We looked at the tape of how we played and we realised we made mistakes from corners and free-kicks and we have worked on that. I ask our fans to be patient even if it takes more than 20 minutes to get a goal.”
Second-choice keeper Mapunda who will be called upon if the tie ends deadlocked with spot kicks required exuded confidence he was ready for such an eventuality.
“The ability to crawl back the difference is there. It will be easy for us to get the three goals and should I be called upon in a shoot-out, I’m ready. We have trained for this as well,” the Tanzanian who made his name when he helped Gor to the domestic cup by excelling in a shoot-out win over Sofapaka said.
What about his towel that gained even more fame?
“It will be there as well,” he replied with a chuckle. “It is for wiping sweat but fans believe it has some powers which is not true. All the powers we have come from God and the effort we put in training and that is what we will rely on.”
Jerim Onyango, Solomon Nasio, Christopher Wekesa, David Owino, Donald Mosoti, Anthony Akumu, Joseph Njuguna, Kevin Omondi, Victor Ali Abondo, Rama Salim, Dan Sserunkuma.
Ivo Mapunda, Moses Odhiambo, Ivan Anguyo, David Otieno, Edwin Lavasta, Innocent Mutiso, Musa Mohammed.