NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 20 – Kenya’s continental representatives, Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards will be out to seek progress to the first round of their respective competitions on Wednesday when the return leg ties of the preliminary stage will be played.
Both Gor and AFC are away to Equatorial Guinea and Madagascar respectively after registering mixed results in the first leg hosted in Kenya nine days ago.
They conducted their first training on Tuesday after departing the country on Monday.
Kenya’s record 16-time KPL champions, Gor Mahia, travelled to Malabo with a 2-0 first leg advantage against Equatorial Guinea league Champions, Leones Vegeteranios in the CAF Champions League.
Head coach Dylan Kerr has taken the same squad that did the job in the first leg, hoping to replicate the same performance. Rwandese forward Jacques Tuyisenge made a return to the team after missing the first leg, but suffered another setback when he was forced off injured during their midweek Kenyan Premier League match against Zoo FC where they won 4-2.
“It is unfortunate that Jack (Tuyisenge) will not be able to be part of the return leg because he gives us so much dynamism in attack. But we go there with confidence; I trust the players I have picked and I am confident we will win. We are going there to play an attacking game. No packing the bus. We want to win and win well,” the British tactician said.
A draw or a 1-0 loss will even be enough for Gor Mahia, but the demanding Kerr will want them to go for victory to ease into the second round.
On his part, Captain Harun Shakava adds that they are poised for victory.
“For us, the only thing we want is a win. We have played five competitive matches so far this year and the confidence level have risen. Playing away from home is not easy and we have to be tactically and technically alert,” Shakava said.
-AFC Leopards seek win-
Meanwhile, AFC Leopards will be in Mahajanga, Madagascar, hoping for an improved performance after being forced to a 1-1 draw by Fosa Juniors in the first leg in Kakamega last week in the Total CAF Confederation Cup.
Leopards coach Robert Matano, just like his Gor Mahia counterpart is angling for a win, though a high scoring draw will take them through.
“We’ve had time to work on our mistakes because we haven’t played since the game in Kakamega. We have especially worked on the coordination in our defence and attack, which were a bit shaky and we expect to win,” Matano said.
The club received a huge setback with Ghanaian forward Prince Arkoh suffering an anterior cruciate ligament tear in the first leg and is set to be out for six months. Arkoh was arguably AFC’s best performer in the first leg and his absence will be a huge blow to the Kenyan side.
However, they have been boosted with the return of international right back Dennis Sikhayi who has recovered from a groin problem.
Skipper Duncan Otieno has rallied his teammates to ensure they earn a ticket to the first round.
“It will be a tough match because having seen them in the first leg, they are a very good and organized team. We need to go there and be at our best, get a win and progress. Trying to get a draw is dangerous and we have to play all out,” Otieno said.