NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 15- Gor Mahia will be without midfielder Kevin ‘Ade’ Omondi and forward Ephraim Guikan for their CAF Champions League first round return leg tie against Esperance in Tunisia on Sunday with the two having been ruled out with injury.
Guikan dislocated his shoulder during last weekend’s Kenyan Premier League 1-0 win over Nzoia Sugar while Omondi who skippered the team for that match stretched his hamstring in training.
“It is a blow losing any players for us. Kevin has come back and he’s trying to work hard and I think sometimes he tries too hard. He needs to realize once you come back to a high level, it takes time to adjust. I can’t really blame him because he is always giving 110 percent since he wants to come back stronger,” Gor head coach Dylan Kerr told Capital Sport.
While Omondi started in the match against Esperance in Machakos last Wednesday, Guikan was an unused substitute as he had just returned having rested for seven days following a concussion.
However, the tactician will be pleased with the availability of midfielder Humphrey Mieno who has missed the last two games with a knee injury, coincidentally picked up against Esperance during the first leg.
Gor Mahia are scheduled to depart Nairobi for Tunis via Doha Thursday midnight, and they were in high spirits as they had dinner together at the popular Ranalo Dishes in the city centre.
“I am amazed by the camaraderie and team spirit that these players have. We are here, laughing and smiling together, everyone talking of that big game,” Kerr noted.
He added; “It is a tough match definitely because we are going away to a very good team. But I have told these players that they have a chance of making Kenya proud. We just got to roll our sleeves up, have some pride for yourselves and if we do it, we will get off the plane as heroes,” the tactician offered.
-Kerr under pressure-
The tactician has admitted that he is under pressure to deliver a first group stage appearance for Gor since 1994 when they reached the quarter finals of the CAF Cup but remains rooted on the ground that his side will not crumble under pressure.
They carry with them to Tunis a 0-0 draw from the first leg in Machakos and any kind of a scoring draw will take them through to the group stages on the away goal rule.
Kerr’s first target heading into the tie on Sunday will be to avoid conceding.
“We have to make sure we don’t concede early then we also ensure that we match their energy and enthusiasm at home. I have players who can score, but we have to be careful on how we manage the expectations. We have to keep our feet firmly on the ground and let the players do the job,” the tactician further stated.
If Gor lose to Esperance in Tunisia, they will still have a shot at making it into the group stages of continental football, though this time in the second tier CAF Confederations Cup.
They will be drawn into a home and away play-off with the top 16 teams from the Confederation Cup first round with the winners proceeding to the group stages.