NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 18- Despite a tough three-weeks with off the pitch shenanigans threatening to derail their otherwise brilliant season, Gor Mahia head coach Dylan Kerr says the team’s focus will not be deterred ahead of Wednesday evening’s CAF Confederation Cup Group D clash with Tanzania’s Yanga at Kasarani.
Before departing for Tanzania for the CECAFA Kagame Cup, Gor Mahia players had staged a go slow demanding unpaid allowances and the drama followed them all the way through to Tanzania where they were ultimately suspended from the tournament after refusing to pick their third placed team medals.
But on Wednesday, the team switches its attention to a competition that has the potential to re-write their club history.
“Whatever happened in the past is in the past and we have to concentrate on the job at hand. We have had our issues off the field which have psychologically affected the players, but we need to look at what’s ahead of us and keep working for it,” the tactician noted.
Captain Harun Shakava affirmed that the players have their eyes fixed on the prize and have put the woes that wobbled their ship over the past month behind their back.
“We met the chairman on Monday evening and he talked to us as players and he assured us that our grievances will be addressed. We hope it comes into action but for us, our focus is on this game and getting the three points,” the captain noted.
Gor Mahia are pegged second in the standings with two points off back to back draws against leaders USM Alger and Rayon Sport and a win on Wednesday will be a huge step towards qualifying for the quarter finals of the competition.
“It is a very important game to both teams because everyone wants the three points. But I believe my players are motivated as they go into this game and they are focused and in the right mentality,” the tactician noted.
He expects a tough challenge from Yanga who have vowed to give their all for three points in Nairobi and has cautioned his players to ensure they start the game early and make use of the chances they create.
“We have always created chances, we have dominated games. Against Rayon we should have won, at home against USM we should have also won looking at the chances we had. We have worked on a few things in training and hopefully they show on the pitch,” the coach noted.
He is however wary that their tough fixture line up might come to bite as they will be playing their seventh game in less than three weeks.
“Sometimes it is very difficult to work on things because you have to play, recover, then play again. But we gave the players some two days off just after CECAFA and we hope it helped them relax and they will be fresher coming into this game,” the coach noted.
The team will be without defender Joash Onyango who is suspended having picked up a red card against USM Alger and Kerr is expected to fill his void with Charles Momanyi.
“Shakava and Joash have been fantastic; Charles has been outstanding with his attitude and professionalism. He has not held his head down when we needed him. Joash is devastated he is not playing but Charles can fill that gap,” the coach said.
Meanwhile, the tactician says he is pleased with the playing surface at Kasarani which will be hosting it’s first game since the tie against USM Alger in May.
The pitch had been closed down so the grass grows well after being hurriedly opened for the Hull City friendly match.