NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 25- Record Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia will set one foot in the quarter finals of the CAF Confederations Cup with a win over Tanzania’s Young Africans (Yanga) in Dar es Salaam on Sunday night.
Gor occupy second slot in Group D with five points, three behind leaders USM Alger who play third placed Rayon Sport in Algiers simultaneously.
Rayon are on two points picked from back to back draws against Gor and Yanga and a loss coupled with a Gor win will pull the gap between second and third to six points.
This will mean that Gor will need only a point from the remaining two games; away to USM Alger and at home to Rayon to confirm their slot in the group stages of the continental showpiece for the first time ever.
But first, they have to find a way past Yanga.
“It is not easy as everybody thinks. We won 4-0 away and now all the people think it is going to be easy going to Dar. The expectations are very high on us and the pressure is massive. It is going to be a difficult game,” Gor Mahia head coach Dylan Kerr says.
He adds; “I have been reading on all the problems Yanga have but I don’t believe anything. I know they are going to come tough at us and they are playing at home so that is an extra motivation with their fans behind them as well.”
Financial problems, player revolt and an unsettled fan base are some of the things pressing down the multiple Tanzanian champions and their performance in the Confederations Cup after losing their domestic title to arch rivals Simba have not made it easy for them.
Gor on the other hand have had a brilliant season despite a few blips with players staging go slows over unpaid allowances.
The 16-time Kenyan Premier League champions are unbeaten in their league campaign after 20 matches and are in the quarter finals of the domestic cup, a tournament they have played using mostly second choice players.
They come into the Yanga game on Sunday night beaming with confidence after beating arch rivals AFC Leopards 2-1 last Sunday before the second team edged out Posta Rangers’ first team 3-1 in the FKF Shield.
“We have done really well I think. Rotating the players in midweek ensured some rest to everyone and I know we are fresh for this assignment. I just ask the players to pull up that green jersey with pride and go represent the team to their best ability,” added the coach.
Skipper Harun Shakava meanwhile has rallied his teammates to rise up to the occasion and pick maximum points from Tanzania. Shakava was on the score-sheet the last time these two sides met in Dar during the 2015 CECAFA Kagame Cup, Gor winning 2-1.
“It is a very tough match away from home but we know that there is the possibility of qualification if we win this game. That is what is driving us and we will go in to play for a win. As players we are ready and psyched up,” the defender noted.
Apart from Ernest Wendo who is yet to recover from a hamstring strain picked up during their CECAFA Kagame Cup campaign, Kerr will have a full strength squad to pick his best 11 from.
Defender Joash Onyango returns from suspension while George Odhiambo who missed the first leg tie will be available after returning, and scoring, in the Mashemeji Derby last weekend.