Kenyan champions Gor Mahia will tomorrow play Cameroonian club, New Stars de Douala, in the first leg of the 2018/2019 Confederation of African Football Cup play-offs at Kasarani Stadium.
Kenyan teams have not impressed in African club competitions, particularly against north and west African squads. In December, Kenya’s local cup winners Kariobangi Sharks were eliminated from the preliminaries of Caf Confederation Cup, while Gor Mahia were sent packing in the African Champions League preliminaries and were subsequently relegated to the second-tier Caf Confederation Cup.
It is hoped Gor Mahia, which also failed to reach the knockout stage of the competition last season, have learnt their lessons and head to the weekend’s match well prepared. Gor Mahia only needs to win the match to reach the group stage, which guarantees the club at least Sh27 million in revenue, and an additional Sh38 million should it proceed to the knockout stage.
Last year, Gor Mahia, which had made history by becoming the first Kenyan club to reach the group stage of African Confederation Cup since 1993, suffered heartbreak after coming close to reach the knockout stage. A lot has changed at the club which is now coached by Hassan Oktay. The team has lost key players and has struggled to impress even in the local league.
But it can draw inspiration from the squad of 1987 that won Africa Cup Winners Cup (later renamed Mandela Cup). Gor Mahia’s players and members of the technical bench must believe they have what it takes to again conquer Africa. Coach Oktay must find a winning combination for the match. Urged on by a loyal and enthusiastic fan base, Gor Mahia players should win convincingly in Nairobi.