NAIROBI, KENYA, Apr 18- Gor Mahia landed in Pretoria, South Africa at around 3am EAT Wednesday, less than 17 hours before they tackle SuperSport United in the return leg of the CAF Confederation Cup playoff at the Lucas Moripe Stadium.
K’Ogalo’s travel down south was shrouded in drama, first over delay in visa acquisition and secondly, they didn’t know whether or not they would even have tickets to travel to Johannesburg from where they would connect via train to Pretoria.
With their begging bowls spread on the streets, the 16-time Kenyan Premier League champions found favor in the eyes of Nairobi Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko who purchased 30 return tickets for them as well as financing their accommodation in Pretoria.
But despite the pre-match drama, head coach Dylan Kerr has chosen to focus on the Wednesday night job that requires his side to avoid defeat in Atteridgeville and book a historic slot in the Confederation Cup group stage.
“For us, the work is to focus on what we do on the pitch. It is true sometimes what happens outside has an influence but we need to have our focus on the game and get a result. We are out here representing millions of Kenyan hopes and we have to deliver,” Kerr told Capital Sport.
Gor were scheduled to travel out to South Africa on Monday night but with that impossible, Kerr hurriedly organized a 6am session at the Camp Toyoyo on Tuesday morning as they kept their eyes on the prize.
-Miss key players-
He will be missing three influential players for the Wednesday night match; mid fielder Ernest Wendo is suspended having picked up two consecutive yellow cards while Jacques Tuyisenge, who scored the first leg’s lone goal and Ephraim Guikan were denied visas to South Africa.
A huge blow to the tactician who will need his strikers to fire from all cylinders against a SuperSport side that is eager to show that their appearance in the final of the same tournament last year was not by sheer luck.
A little advantage on his side though, SuperSport have domestic troubles to deal with. Matsatsantsa are pegged at the bottom of the Premier Soccer League (PSL) log lying 14th, just one point off 15th placed Ajax Cape Town and with three matches left.
They have played consecutive 0-0 draws against Orlando Pirates and Cape Town City over the last seven days.
“Definitely their focus now will be on surviving relegation and not so much more on the Confederation Cup. Nonetheless, they got to the final last year and have a point to prove. We will take our chances and give our all for Kenyan football,” the passionate Kerr further stated.
“We will be playing at a better pitch and hopefully, we can execute our tactics well. We don’t want to concentrate on who is there and who is not. I have a good group of players and everyone is capable of coming in and giving a good performance worth the green shirt of K’Ogalo,” the tactician further explained.
The tactician also asserted that his side will not be employing a defensive tactic heading in to the second leg but he might just need to change that with Tuyisenge and Guikan both missing.
Among the options he has at his disposal include playing Meddie Kagere through the middle supported by either Kevin Omondi or Francis Kahata.
Midfielder Philemon Otieno who has featured for right-back over the last three games might keep his place while Lawrence Juma might be strapped into midfield to partner Humphrey Mieno in the absence of the suspended Wendo.
Gor Mahia, winners of the defunct Nelson Mandela Cup in 1987, are seeking to get their feet back on the table of African football royalty and a place in the group stages of the Confederation Cup might just be a step for this direction.
At stake as well if they manage that feat will be a pay-out of Sh27mn, one that will come in handy especially now that they are struggling for financial stability. A place in the group stages might also be a cashing point for them to earn more sponsors.
Kerr has insisted that the players should look at the ‘bigger picture’ with qualification not only earning more points on their CVs but also earn them better exposure.