NAIROBI,Kenya, Feb 28 – Gor Mahia head coach Dylan Kerr has asked the Kenyan Premier League to lessen their burden in the domestic campaign by spacing out their league fixtures to help them give their best in continent football.
The record 16-time KPL champions will be playing Tunisian giants Esperance in the CAF Champions League first round tie at home on March 7, but before then they will have played three matches within a week.
They played Kariobangi Sharks last Sunday, just two days after arriving from Equatorial Guinea, then play Tusker FC on Wednesday and Bandari on Sunday.
“KPL have killed us. We are the only team left in CAF and the expectation on me and the team is phenomenal. Playing three matches within seven days is crazy. If I get injuries because of these fixtures, I will lose top players,” Kerr said.
“Then, I have to bring in bench players. I mean it’s the situation we have to deal with but KPL have to think about it. We want to do well for Kenyan football,” the British tactician told Capital Sport.
He was forced to field most of his ‘second choice’ players against Sharks last weekend and his side was lucky enough to scrape off with a 2-1 win. He is however expected to field a strong squad for both Tusker and Bandari.
“I have to try out different players now so that we can take care of this situation. We need to make sure that every player is ready in the event that one of the strong starters suffers injury,” the coach further explained.
His focus will be on Esperance, a side that beat them 8-2 on aggregate during their last meeting in 2014, and he remains confident they can match up the Tunisians and edge them out to make a group stage appearance.
“This is a match worth Sh56mn and to be honest that’s our big focus now. The players have to look at the big picture. With this kind of match you get enormous exposure on TV, on social media and as a player that opens up avenues. I really hope the players look at it this way,” the coach said.
He added; “I have watched their clips and they are a big, strong team. We’ve got to match them and I believe we have the ability, energy and speed. We need to work on what we can do to counter them.”
“I’ve got to be confident, believe and trust in my players.”
Kerr whose side sits on nine points in the standings with nine points have an opportunity to move top of the log on Wednesday when they host Tusker in Machakos.
K’Ogalo picked four points off the brewers last season, drawing the first leg 0-0 before winning the return fixture 2-0.
Despite Tusker having started the season slow, Kerr expects a tough encounter especially when he comes up against former striker Timothy Otieno released from the team at the end of last season.
“Timothy will definitely be running down trying to prove a point, that I was wrong to release him. It will be tough for us because Tusker is a very good team,” the tactician offered.
Sam Timbe’s men haven’t started the season as strongly as they had hoped to, currently sitting 13th with four points from one win (2-1 against Nzoia Sugar) and a draw (0-0 against Posta). They started the season on a slow with a 2-0 loss away to Chemelil.
A loss to Gor will further pile pressure on Timbe, but the Ugandan tactician must be fancying his chances especially after watching how Sharks shut down the reigning champions on Sunday.
Matches between these two sides have always been tough, but Gor have still somehow found a way out. Over the last 19 meetings, Gor has won eight times and lost four, while the remaining ended in draws.