NAIROBI, Kenya, August 5 – It is 29 years since Gor Mahia last reigned over the region and having broken their league drought last season, K’Ogalo are out to return to the apex of the Cecafa Club Championships in Rwanda.
The team departed for the regional rumble of domestic champions Wednesday without former Harambee Stars forward Patrick Oboya who missed the trip through injury but the rank and file of the club believes their time to rule since 1985.
Head coach Bobby Williamson noted it will be a big blow to miss the winger who picked a knock last week during training while dismissing reports George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo will not be in the travelling party.
K’Ogalo to travel with 20 players as per the rules of the tournament and the Scotsman who has just been appointed Harambee Stars boss, was upbeat his charges will give their best to win the regional title they last lifted in Sudan with a 2-0 victory over archrivals AFC Leopards in the final.
“It’s disappointing to hear people saying Odhiambo has been dropped, he will travel with us, we will only miss Oboya who pulled out of training yesterday after having a recurring injury that saw his miss practice the whole of last week.
“Unfortunately we will have an outfield squad 17 since I have included three goalkeepers in the squad in case one gets injured or suspended. Everybody is training hard to fight making it in the team and it’s getting very competitive that makes me worry of injuries,” Williamson told Capital Sport after conducting their last training at Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium.
Ugandan foreign based players, defender Godfrey Walusimbi, midfielder Geoffrey Kizito and forward Dan Sserunkuma who were on international duty with Cranes, have already linked up with the team.
Williamson told their first target is to win the opener against Ugandan champions Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA).
“It doesn’t matter whom we are going to face its always going to be tough because the players will be playing a lot of matches in a short period but I’m focused on the first game since we don’t want to lose it and if we do, it will be difficult to progress to quarter-finals. Hopefully we will win and build on it.
“I have been involved with Cecafa when I was managing Cranes and there is no big difference, my experience will help us prepare the team well and keep players fit although it’s always a challenge because we will be representing Kenya as well.
“We need to go out there and demonstrate a good show and ensure we don’t disappoint our fans, we know it’s a tall order but we will give our best,” the coach explained.
However, Williamson said the regional showpiece will affect their plans of defending the KPL title because they will have to catch up with their challengers when they return.
“As I said earlier, the timing of the tournament is wrong for us that will see us probably come back and find Tusker, Sofapaka and other top five teams have displaced us at the top so it’s going to be very demanding for our players to try and catch up.”
K’Ogalo open their campaign against KCCA on Friday before facing Burundi’s Flambeau de l’Est, hosts APR and Telecom of Djibouti to round their five-team tricky Pool B assignment.
Gor will be seeking revenge against the Rwandese who hit them 6-1 on aggregate at the 2009 CAF Confederations Cup in a group where three will qualify for the quarters.
The winner will receive Sh2.6m (USD30, 000) while runners up and third will walk away with Sh1.75m (USD 20,000) and Sh876, 000 (USD10, 000.