Kenya’s emissaries Bandari and Gor Mahia begin continental campaigns

Saturday, August 10th, 2019 00:00 |
Fred Nkata (left) and Abdallah Hassan of Bandari vie for the ball during a training session at Jamhuri High School on Wednesday. Photo/PHILLIP KAMAKYA

Kenya’s emissaries Bandari and Gor Mahia have their hands full when they take shots at the 2019 Africa inter-clubs competitions in Nairobi and Bujumbura respectively.

Bandari, the 2018 SportsPesa Shield Cup champions, takes the battle to Sudanese outfit Al Ahly Shandy at Moi International Sports Centre (MISC) Kasarani Saturday.

As for Kenyan top tier league champions Gor, they will do an estimated 1,388 kilometres from Nairobi to Burundian capital Bujumbura for an intriguing Africa Champions League first round, first-leg clash against hosts Aigle Noir de Makamba at Intwari Stadium tomorrow.

K’Ogalo will be going flat out to brush off the debris of a temporary crisis following the departure of their head coach Hassan Oktay and this presents his successor Steven Polack, who was unveiled on Thursday, with a chance to produce the magic wand on his debut with the Green Army.

Last year, Gor left a mark in the money-spinning competition where they even reached the quarter-finals, thanks to experienced players like Jacques Tuyisenge, Francis Kahata and George “Blackberry” Odhiambo who have since quit the team, and it remains to be seen how the team will perform with a largely new squad. 

For Polack, he is unfazed by such turn of events, saying the team is determined to make life difficult for Aigle Noirs on the pitch.

“Playing away does not mean we are under pressure, No. Although I’m new in the technical bench, I have noticed that the players are hungry for success and this can only be proved in Bujumbura,” quipped the tactician who signed a two-year deal with Gor. 

Meanwhile, Bandari will be out to cast away the spell of elimination by St. Eloi Lupopo of the Democratic Republic of Congo three years ago when they face Al Ahly Shandy in CAF Cup.

“Although I was not in the team then, I believe the elimination was a huge disappointment but commonsense dictates that a defeated soldier lives to fight another day. That is now water under the bridge” quipped Bandari coach Bernard Mwalala.

As Mwalala leads his brigade in the battle against Shandy, the tactician has called for caution given that the visiting side is an unknown quantity.

“They (Al Shandy) do not know the type of football we play and neither do they know ours which is why both teams should be extremely circumspect. Bandari’s technical bench has done its part and it is upon the players to do theirs and the rest shall fall in place,” said Mwalala.

Asked what he thinks is the team’s prospects of progressing past the preliminary stage, Mwalala said: “Of course, the team has the potential to do it. 

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