Regional bragging rights at stake as glamour clubs Gor, Yanga face off
Gor Mahia and Young Africans of Tanzania, the two clubs that command the biggest following in the regional, will face off on Saturday afternoon when the Cecafa Club Championship kicks off at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The match will be a clash of two teams that boast of numerous domestic and regional titles, although the Kenyan team will bear the underdogs tag considering that their opponent will enjoy tremendous support from their partisan fans as well as home advantage.
K’Ogalo also have an awful recent track record in international competitions. Last year Gor Mahia was eliminated from the competition in the group stages without winning a single match.
But if the old saying about a team reflecting the coach’s personality is true, then the K’Ogalo should approach their opening encounter without trepidation.
“Every team is here because they are champions in their own countries. Like them, we are a strong team and at the end of it all we shall see who is strongest,” coach Frank Nuttall told Daily Nation Sport on Friday before taking the team through the final training session.
On assumption that his team must beat Yanga in today’s match to have a real chance of making it past the group stages, Nuttall conceded that they would indeed be content with a draw.
“This is not a knock out tournament. We have three matches to play in the group stages so any result can be corrected after the first match. Yanga are chasing the ultimate prize and they have the home advantage. Although the opening match is always crucial, a draw won’t be a bad result for us,” Nuttall said.
Nuttall has already warned his back four of Karim Nizigiyimana, Harun Shakava, Abouba Sibomana and Musa Mohammed of the aerial threat that Yanga captain Nadir “Cannavaro” Haroub poses.
Nuttall is also hopeful that Ali Abondo will not be as muted as he was during K’Ogalo’s last league match against Mathare United, and that striker Michael Olunga’s partnership with Meddie Kagere will be as lethal as it has been in the Kenyan league.
Meanwhile, Yanga assistant coach Boniface Mkwasa conceded that he will approach the match with caution keeping in mind the fact that K’Ogalo has a sparkling 2015 record in the KPL.
“The match is going to be tough. I have been following Gor Mahia closely and I know that they are unbeaten back at home. We shall therefore be cautious in our approach, but we are determined to win this match,” he said.
The last time the two teams met in this tournament was in 1996 when they were drawn in the same group. They drew 1-1 in the match and K’Ogalo won 4-0 in the playoffs later in the tournament.
Gor Mahia: Bonface Oluoch, Karim Nizigiyimana, Musa Mohammed, Harun Shakava, Abouba Sibomana, Khalid Aucho, Collins Okoth, Ali Abondo, Godfrey Walusimbi, Meddie Kagere, Michael Olunga
Yanga: Ali Mustapha, Juma Abdul, Haji Mwinyi, Nadir Haroub, Kavin Yondan, Mbuyu Twitte, Simon Msuva, Haruna Niyonzima, Amis Tambwe, Donald Ngoma, Geoffrey Mwashiuya