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Everton club boss Marco Silva is anticipating a strong opposition when the English Premier League side host multiple Kenya league champions Gor Mahia in today’s Sportpesa trophy match at Goodison Park from 10pm Kenyan time.
This will be a rematch of last year’s encounter in Tanzania’s capital Dar es Salaam, where the toffees narrowly edged out the 17-time Kenyan champions 2-1 in a closely contested match that saw the 60,000-seater national stadium filled to capacity.
The match being on a week day, it means Silva will have to rest most of his first team players to be in good shape when they take on league rivals Chelsea at the Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
“We expect a tough match from the Kenyan side and this being a week that we have a very big league game at the Bridge, I will give a chance to players who have not been having enough playing time to ensure that my key players are ready for the crucial Chelsea match.
This is an epic game not just for us but to the Kenyan side who can utilise the opportunity to showcase their talents. I think they are worthy opponents,” noted the 41 year old coach who is a retired Portugal national team right back.
He added: “The match between Gor and Everton is also important because there are bragging rights and pride to fight for and both sides will be keen to carry the day.”
Everton’s right back Seamus Cole who scored one of their goals against Brighton in their 3-1 win at Goodison Park over the weekend, said African football had made great strides and expected K’Ogallo to give them a run for their money.
“In recent years African football has become more and more competitive and now that we are facing Kenya champions Gor, we know it is not going to be a walk in park. Some of our first team players may not get a chance to play but that does not mean we are not up to task,” said the 31- year old Cole.
Meanwhile, Gor newly signed left-back Shaffik Batambuze had his first training with the team after arriving in Liverpool on Sunday and he was quick to state that the match will be a perfect opportunity to showcase his talent.
“I am not here to fill anyone’s shoes but am here because the team saw great potential in me and thus why am gone prove myself on the match,” said Batambuze.