NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 23- The possibility of facing English second tier side Hull City in a friendly match in Kasarani on May 13 has thrown Gor Mahia head coach Dylan Kerr into a huge dilemma especially with the club’s campaign in the CAF Confederations Cup taking shape.
K’Ogalo are scheduled to travel to Kigali, Rwanda to face Rayon Sport in their first CAF Confederation Group D match on May 6 and will be hosting Algeria’s USM Alger 10 days later in Nairobi.
They are required to participate in a play-off with FKF Cup holders AFC leopards on May 1 in Nakuru in a match that will determine who between them will play Hull on May 13. In the event that Gor win the tie and book a friendly date with Hull, Kerr is faced with a headache.
“We are the league’s defending champions and the league leaders, so I think we should have been selected to play Hull. I don’t know why we had to go into this play-off,” Kerr posed.
“Also, I am faced with a big dilemma because at this point, my focus is on the Confederations Cup to be honest. We play on the 6th away and the 16th at home and in between, we might be playing Hull City. I am left with a decision to make because playing against a Championship side is a huge opportunity for these players like we had with Everton last year,” said Kerr.
“I need all my best players to be fresh and injury-free for the Confed Cup and that means I will have to disappoint a few players by not playing them in this prestigious match if we get the chance. We also have the play-off to think about. Tough decisions await but I will take that responsibility as coach,”
“I mean it’s a great opportunity and I thank the sponsors for that. It is football and we need to deal with how things come. I am optimistic we will find a way,” the tactician further stated.
Hull who are also sponsored by betting firm SportPesa just like Gor and AFC arrive in the country on May 11 for a five day tour that will include football clinics within Nairobi with their visit ultimately culminating in a friendly match against either of the two Kenyan giants.
“It is a great opportunity obviously for Hull to come and learn from the growing game in Kenya like Everton did last year and this is an opportunity for our players here to also learn from them,” Sportpesa CEO Ronald Karauri said on Monday.
Hull Commercial Manager Joe Clutterbrook told the club’s official website: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the club and one we are all very much excited about. Whilst the match against either Gor Mahia or AFC Leopards is obviously the centrepiece of the tour, we are also very keen to engage with the local community in Nairobi, as well as experience the culture on offer.”
While Gor will be left with huge weighing scales to look at, their opponents AFC Leopards will be salivating at the opportunity of facing the English side with their new coach Rodolfo Zapata.
Chairman Dan Mule speaking to Capital Sport says it will be a momentous opportunity for his team which will work their socks off to beat Gor and get the opportunity.
“We will do our best in the match. Now we have a new coach and we hope that by then he will have had time with the team and will be ready for the game,” Mule noted.
The match will be staged at the Kasarani Stadium and just like they did with Everton in Tanzania last year, SportPesa have taken it upon themselves to renovate the playing surface to mirror the same quality that Hull have at their KCOM home pitch.
This will be the second time a Kenyan team is facing a side from Hull. Last year, a KPL select team travelled to the English club’s home and played a friendly against their development side, losing 2-1.
Meanwhile, the government has promised that the Kasarani Stadium which has been closed for renovation since January will be ready for the tie.
“We are promising that this stadium will be complete. We are aware that there have been challenges but we will work closely with the contractors to ensure everything is in place,” Sports Principal Secretary Peter Kaberia said.
He has also added that both Nyayo and Kinoru Stadia will be ready by June 1 with the Kinoru Stadium scheduled to host the Madaraka Day national celebrations. Initially, Kaberia had exuded confidence that the three stadia would have been complete by end of March.
The completion of the three stadia especially Nyayo and Kasarani will be welcome news for Gor who have been playing their CAF matches at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos which has greatly dilapidated due to overuse.