NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 8- An upbeat Gor Mahia head coach Dylan Kerr is defiant that their CAF Champions League first round tie against Esperance du Tunis is not over despite a barren stalemate in the first leg on Wednesday.
Gor produced one of the finest performances ever by a Kenyan team in continental football since Sofapaka’s win over Ismailia in 2011, but failed when it mattered most, banging in the goals that would have seen them carry a huge advantage to Tunis.
And now, Kerr has urged his side to replicate that same performance in the return leg in 10 days time, saying he does not care about the side’s performance last time they played there in 2014, a match that ended 5-0 in favour of the North Africans.
“I don’t care about 2014. I am not bothered at all about that because that’s history. What I care about is do we have the belief that we can be better than a lot of people actually give us credit for?” the tactician posed, even as he lavished his side with praise over their performance.
Esperance keeper Noel Ben Sherifia was undoubtedly Esperance’s best player on the pitch, making two crucial saves in the first half and one in the second half as the North Africans took with them a 0-0 draw from Machakos.
“I have just said to the players don’t go to Tunisia scared. Go out there and give me that performance. We could have scored six goals; we had chances, it wasn’t our day in front of goal. But you’ve got to praise my boys,” he said.
“They went out there dominated the game and showed how good we are and we now need to go to Tunisia in a hostile environment and show that as well,” Kerr added.
Kerr also lamented that the team didn’t have the best of pre-match days as they were forced to spend seven hours in traffic from Nairobi, arriving in Machakos at 1am Wednesday morning.
“For them to recover as well as they did is incredible. I say thanks to my players for the energy and enthusiasm displayed. We ran throughout the 90 minutes and Esperance perhaps wasted 30 of those minutes lying down and especially their goalkeeper,” stated the tactician.
Kerr also bemoaned that the financial situation of the club is not helping much especially after the exit of sponsors, but says the club from the management to players are fighting to ensure they ink their names in history books.
“Kenyan football should embrace this because we have taken this to another level. I told the players to enjoy this and make the most of it and I hope they realize how good they are after this performance against a strong Tunisia side. We should go there surprise people then maybe we can get the respect of African football,” Kerr further noted.
The tactician is also hoping that the Kenyan premier league management can lessen their burden ahead of the return leg, lamenting that while Esperance had a more spaced out calendar in the local league, they have been forced to play five matches in 15 days.
Gor will once again swing their attention back to the local league action on Sunday where they are scheduled to play against Nzoia Sugar at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos.
The tactician says he will have no other choice but to rotate his squad again as he looks to ensure everyone is fit and fresh.