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When Gor Mahia right-back Karim Nizigiyimana suffered an Achilles tendon rupture last year, he never imagined he would kick a ball again.
It is an injury that kept him out for nine months, returning to action at the back end of last season when K’Ogalo had all but sealed a record-extending 17th league title.
During the difficult period, Gor was patient and waited for him with club physio Fredrick Otieno making sure he recovered fully.
With K’Ogalo taking on English Premier League side Everton at Goodison Park in the United Kingdom tomorrow, the Burundian wants to repay that faith by putting in a good performance that will bring down the Toffees.
“I have been out for a couple of months but this has not stopped me from pushing myself hard to regain my form and be better than before the injury.
The medical team cleared me to return to action a couple of months ago and since then, the coach has been bringing me on as a substitute until recently when I clocked 90 minutes,” said Nizigiyimana during Gor’s physical fitness training at Everton’s training base Finch Farm at the weekend.
“I am better now if not great and if I get an opportunity to play in this international friendly, I will use my experience to ensure we win,” added the 2015 Defender Of the Year.
Nizigiyimana believes the key to victory against the nine-time EPL champions is to ensure the backline and the midfield function well to keep at bay Everton’s dangerous players such as Brazilian Richarlison, Turkish striker Genk Tosun and English winger Theo Walcott.
“This is a big chance not only for me but all players to be the first team to play against an EPL side on English soil. All players have an expectation of being scouted but I will take it as a normal tie away from home and just play my game. Come next season, I know the team will perform even better because of friendlies like these,” said Nizigiyimana.
Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who is the patron of Gor, will be among K’Ogalo faithful in the stands at Goodison.
Raila left the country for England yesterday where he will join other Kenyans to cheer Gor in this historic friendly match and he is confident that the Kenyan champions will put up a good show.
“This is a historic first for Kenyan football, particularly for community clubs which have to make do with very little against great expectations from their fans. I urge our people in the UK, Kenyans and Africans, to come out and give this club the morale boost it needs. Let’s meet in Liverpool,” said Raila.