NAIROBI, July 28 – Gor Mahia midfield lynchpin, Khalid Aucho is a major doubt for Tuesday’s Cecafa Kagame Cup quarter-final against South Sudan’s Al-Malakia.
K’Ogalo who are yet to taste defeat thus far, will be hoping to inch closer to realising their dream of lifting a first regional title in 30 years in Tanzania against the newcomers.
The Ugandan, who was serving suspension in their final preliminary Group A clash against Telecom of Djibouti after picking two yellow cards, is racing against time to recover from a knock suffered in their 1-1 draw against Al-Khartoum of Sudan.
Head coach, Frank Nuttall who led his side to the last-eight after finishing top of their group on 10 points, is preparing for the quarters without the tenacious midfielder in mind.
“Aucho is a big doubt, his chances to feature are 30 percent because he took a bad tackle and hasn’t recovered fully,” Nuttall declared.
The Scotsman, who has already surpassed his predecessor and country man Bobby Williamson in leading the team out of the group phase tempered growing expectations of title success.
Last year, they were eliminated in the preliminary round of the tournament in Kigali, Rwanda, after failing to register a win under Williamson who moved on to national team, Harambee Stars.
“We did not know what to expect in the tournament. Our aim was to better last year’s performance and from our first win against Yanga, we have tried our best to gather points and at the end of the week we are happy with the situation.
“We have achieved our target and from now onwards any result we get is a plus. We will not underrate Malakia because the knockout stages are very tough. Each team that has made it to quarters is there by merit,” the head coach underlined.
Since Gor were sent packing from the CAF Champions League last April, Nutall is yet to taste defeat as his team continues to gather steam on the regional front.
The unbeaten KPL back-to-back champions will enter the quarter-finals as favourites against Malakia who qualified as one of the best losers from Group C on three points but the K’Ogalo boss maintains a semi final berth is not a forgone conclusion.
After resting nine of his regular starters against Djibouti Telcom who went down 3-1 on Sunday, Nutall will unleash his top guns on Tuesday.
Ugandan utility player, Godfrey Walusimbi is expected to return from injury whilst keeper, Boniface Oluoch who was also rested is set to return alongside skipper Musa Mohammed, Harun Shakava (centre-backs), Karim Niizigiyimana and Abuoba Sibomana (full-backs).
In the absence of Aucho who has been instrumental in midfield, Nuttall has Collins Okoth, Ronald Omino, Ali Abondo and Walusimbi at his disposal as Meddie Kagere and youngster Michael Olunga hunt for goals upfront.
“Kagere along with other foreign payers have made good contribution to the squad in terms of performance in KPL and Cecafa. They have to keep on working hard to place the team where it’s supposed to be,” Nuttall, a professional fitness trainer, noted.
Olunga, (21) who has attracted teams in Tanzania including, giants Simba SC is leading the goal scorers chart on four goals.