Gor Mahia’s quest for continental glory begins at Kasarani Stadium tonight when they take on Malawian giants Nyasa Big Bullets in a CAF Champions League preliminary stage tie.
Mixed feelings greet the 7pm fixture as optimists see a way through to the lucrative group stage for Gor while pessimists point to the team’s rather chaotic preparations ahead of this tie as a hindrance to their progress.
Besides the changes on the technical bench that saw popular tactician Dylan Kerr quit, Gor retain arguably the best squad in the region and should steamroll their visitors at home.
They have set lofty targets of winning the Champions League and tonight’s tie against the Silver Bullets should give a vivid reflection on their true capabilities.
“We lost narrowly to Esperance last year and were amazed to see them go all the way to win the Champions League. That has reinforced our belief that we have a great squad and are capable of winning it.
Our target this season is to win the Champions League and Premier League. We also want the SportPesa Cup and Shield,” long-serving club chairman Ambrose Rachier said on Monday.
Reinforcements of the squad by five players of note and three apprentices render K’Ogalo fearsome to opponents but that is hinged on whether the team gets into their swashbuckling grove of last season.
Stand in coach Zedekiah Otieno is likely to pick Boniface Oluoch between the sticks owing to the vast experience the custodian holds over Fredrick Odhiambo and Shaban Odhoji.
Oluoch came under scathing criticism during the second half of last season when he conceded myriads of goals as K’Ogalo exited the Confederation Cup at group stage.
K’Ogalo’s defence is still intact with the inclusion of Ugandan Shafik Batambuze at left back while centre-backs Philemon Otieno, Harun Shakava and Joash Onyango are available for selection.
A bit of realignment could come in midfield and offence with Kenneth Muguna’s return as well as forward Erisa Ssekisambu’s advent.
Muguna’s attacking instincts as well as Jacques Tuyisenge’s hot streak that saw him recently score twice for Rwanda give them an edge while the rest including Francis Kahata could start among substitutes.
Muguna has suddenly threatened Kahata’s position while Mustafa Francis, Ephrem Guikan and Ssekisambu’s roles remain to be seen.