NAIROBI, Kenya, August 7 – “Winning the league was a morale booster. Heading to Kagame Cup, it would feel so nice winning two major trophies in a row,” Gor Mahia Captain Jerim Onyango declared before the contingent of 25 departed for Rwanda on Wednesday night.
Onyango, who was only a year old when K’Ogalo last lifted the regional title in Sudan 29 years ago, believes winning the league last season for the first time in 18 years will inspire them to history once more as they return to the two weeks-long tournament since 1996.
“It’s a big challenge knowing we just won the league last season and we are aware it’s not going to be easy but we will work hard to at least revive Gor’s glory in the region.
“Morale in camp is high and it’s been long since Gor won the trophy so most of the players are looking forward for the challenge,” the Harambee Stars keeper added.
K’Ogalo will begin their quest with a tricky fixture against Ugandan Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) in Group B’s opener on Friday at 3pm local time.
The two sides last met at the 1984 edition in Nairobi where Gor had to come a goal down to salvage a 1-1 draw making the encounter a must watch game since both teams will be out to prove their supremacy.
But Onyango was confident the current squad will triumph despite admitting they are in a tough Pool that also include hosts APR, Burundi’s Atletico, and Djibouti’s Telcom where three teams will sail to the quarter-finals.
“Some of the teams we have faced them in friendly and this time round we have a very experienced team. We are going there as champions and we are geared up to do our best.
“As Kenyan champions we are prepared to face big teams in the tournament and I’m sure they are also afraid of us but 90 minutes will count. If we embrace concentration and team work then at the end of the day we are going to make it,” the 30 year-old popularly known by the Green Army as ‘Jagol’ told Capital Sport.
KCCA head coach George Nseimbe declared he is confident of overcoming Gor since he already know how they play.
“Our group is tough but Gor is not a problem to me. I have been following the Kenyan league on TV and I know how to confront them. APR might give us challenge because they are consistent but I’m not scared of the Kenyans,” Nsimbe told a local daily in Uganda.
Gor will be banking on their three Ugandans, defender Godfrey Walusimbi, midfielder Geoffrey Kizito and talisman Dan Sserunkuma to floor their country club that has won the Ugandan National League nine times.
Unlike Gor who were eliminated in the first round of African Champions League by Tunisian giants Esperance, KCCA who are boosted by the return of Cranes players Brian Majwega, Brian Umony and Hassan Wasswa reached the second round after bundling out Sudanese side Al Merreikh.
The next match for K’Ogalo will be against Atletico who replaced Flambeau de l’est on Monday next week.
Tanzania giants Young Africans also pulled out with Azam FC replacing them in Group A.