Football Football

Kerr hoping to hold on to out-of-contract stars

Gor Mahia head coach Dylan Kerr shares words with striker Meddie Kagere during a training session at the Camp Toyoyo Ground on September 7, 2017.Photo/TIMOTHY OLOULU

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 23 – Gor Mahia head coach Dylan Kerr has urged the club to do everything within its means to ensure that a bulk of his first team players whose contracts end in December renew their commitment so they are part of the team next season.

Kerr says he has personally talked to the players and told them of his desire to keep them and he hopes the management will meet its end of the bargain and see his wishes come true.

“I have already talked to them and told them to stay because unless it is South Africa or Europe, I don’t think they will find a bigger club than Gor Mahia. I am working hard to keep them but at the end of the day, it will be about what the club offers them,” Kerr told Capital Sport.

Gor Mahia’s entire no-nonsense backline of skipper Musa Mohammed, Harun Shakava, Karim Nizigiyimana and Godfrey Walusimbi have their contracts ending in December, as does the deadly forward line of Rwandese strikers Meddie Kagere and Jacques Tuyisenge.

All the six have been a core of the side this season and especially in Kerr’s formation since he took charge of the team and he will be forced to start a fresh building process if they leave.

Mohammed has been a faithful servant of the club, playing for K’Ogalo since 2009 and skippering them to all their last four Premier League titles.

Gor Mahia skipper Musa Mohammed vies for the ball with Nzoia forward Masita Masuta during a Kenyan Premier League clash at the Moi Stadium in Kisumu on September 9, 2017. PHOTO/Courtesy

Already, sources close to Capital Sport intimate that clubs in Zambia are already enquiring about his services.

Kagere and Tuyisenge who have scored 23 goals in the league between themselves this season are also being eyed by various clubs.

Kerr’s ambition next season is to guide the team to the Group Stages of the CAF Champions League and he admits if he keeps the same squad and makes some minor additions, then he will be in line to achieve his target.

“I think I have had a very good squad this season and I would like to keep it. We have done so much in the short time I have been here and it will be good to continue that work into the new season,” the British tactician added.

Midfielder Kenneth Muguna is also another candidate primed for the exit. Shortly after Kerr’s arrival in July, former coach Jose Marcelo Ferreira attempted to snatch the midfielder to his new base in Albania with KF Tirana but Kerr stuck to him.

On his continental ambitions, the tactician believes Gor Mahia has what it takes to ensure they perform well in the Champions League, having failed to get past the first round in their last attempt.

Gor Mahia head coach Dylan Kerr giving instructions. Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

Kerr, formerly coaching Simba SC in Tanzania is confident he is the ‘Joshua’ to take them into the Promised Land.

“I have watched several African leagues and to be honest, Kenya has talent that can match some of the best. The Harambee Stars might not be doing well but the short period I have been here, I have seen how much talent there is,” the tactician offered.

“It is possible to get to the group stages and that is our primary target at the moment then from there we see what else we can achieve. It is tough because there is a lot at stake and every team works hard to get there so it’s all about focus and mental toughness,” he added.

Gor Mahia, winners of the Nelson Mandela Cup, then known as the CAF Cup Winners’ Cup in 1987 have not made it into the group stages of a continental assignment since 1993 when they reached the quarter finals of the CAF Cup.

But even as Kerr looks on to performing well on the continent next season, his focus still remains on finishing the season strongly, targeting 12 points in the remaining four games.

He has disclosed he will be giving a run-in to players who have not had much game time this season to prove their worth over those four games.

Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards players during a past Mashemeji Derby. The two clubs will represent Kenya in next year’s Champions League and Confederations Cup tournaments. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

“To be honest, I am a bit excited that we won the title, but I will only feel full happiness once we have that trophy. The hunger does not change and in the last four games, we want to get all points. The good thing is that I will give an opportunity to the lads who have trained strongly but haven’t had much time on the pitch.”

“I have a group of very passionate players but sad thing is I can only have 18 for a game and field a maximum of 14. Now, I have the chance to see if they can translate the work on the training ground to an actual match,” the tactician further said.

Gor will be travelling to Western Kenya this weekend where they take on Kakamega Homeboyz on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the British tactician has revealed he has received several plaudits from compatriots in Britain, including the English Professional Managers’ Association on picking his first ever league title as coach.

Kerr’s twitter account has been flooded with congratulatory messages from his native Britain.

“It has been overwhelming the last couple of days but again I say, it is not about me. It is about Gor Mahia and Kenyan football. This is a great way to sell Kenyan football out there,” the tactician said.