NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 5- Tusker FC skipper James Situma is still reeling from the pain of narrowly losing out on an opportunity to play in the group stages of a CAF tournament, after missing out with Sofapaka five years ago in the 2011 Confederations Cup.
Batoto ba Mungu were on the verge of being the first ever Kenyan team since Tusker FC in the 1994 CAF Cup Winners Cup to progress to the group stages, but lost narrowly to Tunisia’s Club Africain 4-3 in the play-off round.
Sofapaka had come back from a 3-0 loss in the first leg in Tunis, winning 3-1 in Nairobi.
They had been on a roll, beating the likes of Ismaily and Congo’s Saint Elloi Lupopo and over the last two decades have been the closest Kenya has ever come to the group stages.
“It was such a good run and though at first we actually didn’t think we could reach that far, we started believing. I am glad with how we performed that time with a good team which had players with a lot of self belief,” Situma said, reminiscing on the memorable run.
He now looks forward to travelling the same road for the second time, this time in the top continental league and he believes Tusker has the right quality to make it.
“It is easier now to make it to the group stages than it was then and that is our target as a team. We have two matches to play, give it our all and hopefully we get the results we desire,” Situma stated.
“It is not easy because the teams we are playing against are champions of their countries. But we have a good squad which the management will maintain and we have the right character for big matches. We can do it.”
Tusker will be under pressure this season as they will also be up to defend their twin titles but Situma believes the experience they have within the squad will come in handy.
“It is tough because every team in the league will be coming hard at us. Everyone wants to beat the champion. We will withstand the pressure though. We have a good team and a good coach so I don’t think the pressure will bring us down,” the utility player offered.
Tusker has resumed training and will have local friendly matches to build up for the new season.
Club’s Chief Executive Officer Charles Obiny had earlier disclosed to Capital Sport the team will be looking at a camp in Turkey and Asia as part of their preparations for the tough season.