Kenyan champions Gor Mahia hunt for CAF champions league spot

Saturday, August 24th, 2019 00:00 |
Gor Mahia players go through their paces during KPL Super Cup match at Machakos Stadium. Photo/PHILIP KAMAKYA

Kenyan champions Gor Mahia hope to successfully navigate into the second round of CAF Champions League for third time running when they host Aigle Noir of Burundi at Kasarani stadium Sunday.

K’Ogalo mustered a scoreless draw in Bujumbura a fortnight ago and look fully capitalise on home advantage to trounce the Burundian outfit and set a group stage clinching duel with either USM Alger of Algeria or SONIDEP of Niger.

Gor trounced Nyasa Big Bullets of Malawi at the same stage last season only to be stopped by Lobi Stars of Nigeria courtesy of away goals rule. They had soared over Leones Vegetarianos of Guinea Bissau in 2017, going on to fall 1-0 to Esperance.

At Kasarani, K’Ogalo will not have three top strikers in Dennis Oliech, Francis Afriyie and Gislain Yikpe. The former is still short of match fitness after returning late from injury-induced hiatus while the Ghanaian and Ivorian hit men, signed last month are not eligible until the next round.

Not many changes are expected from coach Steven Pollack with impressive Tanzanian David Mapigano keeping his place between the sticks and keeping Boniface Oluoch and Fredrick Odhiambo benched.

With first choice right back Philemon Otieno out on a long-term injury, Wellington Ochieng and Abdalla Shira will contend for the position at least until January. On the other flank, Shafik Batambuze has regained full fitness and could depose Geoffrey Ochieng to play against Aigle Noir.

Joash Onyango and Charles Momanyi are the senior centre halves in the squad and will take their place unless a late injury rules one out. Former Sony Sugar midfielder Tobias Otieno has carved his niche at K’Ogalo by comfortably slotting into the defensive midfield hole.

Otieno was sent off against Bandari in the Super Cup last weekend but is available for K’Ogalo in continental fixtures. He will partner skipper Kenneth Muguna and Lawrence Juma in midfield Samuel Onyango and Bonififace Omondi prowling on the wings. Striker Nicholas Kipkirui will lead the lines.

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