NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 15- Having been part of the team that lost 5-0 against Esperance in 2014, Gor Mahia captain Harun Shakava has warned his team-mates to be prepared for a hostile crowd at the Stade Olympique de Radès when they face the Tunisians on Sunday.
Shakava, who was just in his second year at Gor Mahia then, scored one of the two goals at home in the 3-2 loss, but partnering David Owino (now with Zesco in Zambia) in defence for the return tie, they endured a torrid evening.
“It was very tough and what I have told the players is that we have to be mentally prepared for a tough game on and off the pitch,” Shakava noted.
He added; “The have very hostile fans who light up flares the entire game and support the team with so much noise from the first to last minute. It is a huge stadium and can sometimes fill up to its 70,000 capacity,” the defender said.
“I have told the players that we should calm our nerves because most of us are not used to playing in front of such a crowd. It is a big game and we should rise to the occasion as big players.”
Though he knows it will not be a walk in the park, Shakava however, does not expect a big thrashing like they had four years back and in fact says they have the ability to match the Tunisians and can pull off a surprising result in Rades.
“Football changes a lot and I believe we have a stronger squad with experienced players compared to 2014. As players we have matured, we know what is needed in such a big game anbd we are going there to battle. It will be 11 versus 11 on the pitch,” the defender noted.
“We have to ensure we keep a clean sheet. We played very well in the first leg and only got unlucky with chances to score. We expect them to come very strong in the first 15 minutes but if we can be able to contain them, that will be good for us,” adds the skipper.