NAIROBI, February 26 – Kenya’s representatives in the CAF assignments, Gor Mahia and Bandari are out to redeem themselves as they face an uphill task of overturning deficits to keep their continental title chase alive.
SportPesa Premier League champions Gor are in Antananarivo looking to reverse a 2-1 defeat they suffered at home to Madagascar’s CNaPS in the Champions League preliminary round first-leg.
Bandari, the GOtv Shield champions, who host DRC’s St. Eloi Lupopoi on Sunday, have a mountain to climb after going down 2-0 away in Lubumbashi.
Gor assistant captain Musa Mohammed has urged his team mates to fight their way into the first round but he admitted it will not be an easy walk in the park after losing 3-2 to CNaPS at the same stage last season, although they sailed through courtesy of their first-leg 1-0 win at home.
“We must put up a great fight and secure ourselves passage to the next round. We have been here before against this same team (CNaPS) and we believe we can do it again.”
“The situation is however different this time. They have the advantage over us unlike last year and we must be clinical to make our chances count. We have been in that stadium and we know what the atmosphere to expect but just like last season we can score goals there,” Mohammed told Gor’s official website.
K’Ogalo head coach, Frank Nuttall is under pressure to register his first competitive win this season apart from beating St Georges of Ethiopia and Sudan’s Al-Hilal in pre-season build up matches.
The Scotsman began the season on a wrong footing, losing 1-0 to Bandari in Super Cup before surrendering to CNaPS which was followed up by two successive draws against Chemelil Sugar and Posta Rangers in the SportPesa Premier League.
CNaPs, who dominates the Madagascan top tier league enter the clash with a slim lead and will be banking on their supporters to shut Gor forwards who will be looking for two away goals for them to overturn the deficit.
Gor will be without inspirational midfielder Collins Okoth who played an integral role in the first leg after failing to get his visa in time.
Ali Abondo is also out despite returning to the club after attending trials in South Africa with Nuttall saying the winger was not fit for the Saturday tie.
Nuttall is expected to make changes from the squad that played in the opening leg, with first choice keeper Boniface Oluoch likely to be relegated to the bench in favour of skipper Jerim Onyango.
Onyango, who is yet to concede defeat in two matches will be flanked by a strong defensive quartet of Mohammed and Harun Shakava at the centre as well as the full back pair of Karim Nizigiyimana and Abuoba Sibomana.
In the absence of Okoth, new signing Eric Ouma will be available for selection to partner with Khalid Aucho in the midfield while Ronald Omino and Godfrey Walusimbi will man the wings.
George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo and in form Enock Agwanga will lead the attack with Jacob Keli likely to start on the bench.
-Bandari tough task-
Bandari, who are experiencing their first continental assignment are on the brink of being eliminated at the early stage as they seek to make a comeback against a team that brags of reaching the 2006 CAF Confederations Cup group stage.
Head coach Twahir Muhiddin has all his players available for selection with custodian Wilson Obungu, defender Felly Mulumba and midfielder Anthony Kimani expected to bring in their experience as they have played against the DRC side before, when they plied trade for Sofapaka.
Lupopo, who arrived on Friday will be returning to Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium, a venue they are familiar with after playing Sofapaka at the same competition in 2011where Batoto Ba Mungu advanced at the expense of the Congolese on away goal rule after a 2-2 tie aggregate.