NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 6- Kenyan clubs have more often than not come short of qualifying to the group stages of continental football with the closest a local club has come being Sofapaka in the 2011 CAF Confederations Cup.
Batoto ba Mungu fell 4-3 on aggregate to Tunisian giants Club Africain in the play-off round, coincidentally the same stage Gor Mahia finds itself in this year.
K’Ogalo dropped to the second tier Confederation Cup after losing by a solitary goal to three-time African Champions Esperance du Tunis in the Champions League second round and they harbor the country’s hope or breaking that duck.
Head coach Dylan Kerr is a man eager to get a Kenyan side back to continental football and he has urged his charges to be on the right side of history when they face South Africa’s SuperSport United in the first leg of the group stage play-off on Sunday.
“It’s a massive game because once again we are carrying the hopes of Kenyan football on our shoulders and we have a massive task ahead of us. It’s a massive challenge for us but the beauty of being a footballer is rising to these challenges,” Kerr acknowledged.
“We can create our own history now; let Gor Mahia be known to be in the group stages year in year out from now. We have the talent, we just need to make sure we go to the game heads high hearts in our sleeves and give a performance that befits Gor Mahia and make our fans happy,” the tactician further pointed out.
Gor will fancy their chances against a SuperSport side struggling to knit results despite reaching the final of last year’s Confederations Cup where they lost to TP Mazembe.
They arrived in Nairobi fresh off a 1-0 loss at the hands of Polokwane City in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) and their status in South Africa’s top tier is more than worrying. They are placed 14th in the standings, three points off the drop zone.
They have not won over their last four domestic outings and the only victory they have enjoyed is a 2-1 win over Angola’s Petro de Luanda in the second leg of the Confederations Cup. But even in their dwindling fortunes, Kerr is not resting on his laurels.
“Even though they are doing indifferent this year, they have something to prove. They played in the final last year and they are no pushovers. I know a bit about their history and I know they will be coming in for a fight,” Kerr added.
With the exception of their skipper Dean Furman who was suspended for Tuesday’s clash against Polokwane, SuperSport might be coming in with a backlog of fatigue to deal with, adding the baggage of travel on top.
Gor Mahia remain optimistic that all factors notwithstanding, they will still be able to gather enough and pick up a win.
“I have told these players to look at the big picture. This game will be broadcast all over Africa and they have an opportunity of showcasing themselves to bigger things. If we do it together, as a team, things will happen,” the tactician added.
Meanwhile, forward Meddie Kagere says the team has learned its lessons from the Esperance game and they will be keen not to repeat the same mistakes, noting the motivation within the squad is at its peak.
“We had very many chances at home in the first leg against Esperance and we lost them. We went in for the second leg and we conceded one goal but we should have scored as well. This time, we will have to take our chances and head to the second leg with a comfortable scoreline,” Kagere added.
The same sentiments were echoed by defender Joash Onyango.
“For us at the back, we will ensure we don’t concede. But our brothers upfront have to make the chances count. That is the only way we will go through. If we win by a margin of two or three goals in the first leg, it will ease pressure on us in South Africa,” Onyango urged.
Kerr has only lost two matches since taking over as Gor boss, a 1-0 league loss against Mathare United last season and last month’s loss to Esperance in Tunis. He will be keen to maintain the same record.