IN DAR ES SALAAM
Gor Mahia midfielder Humphrey Mieno has downplayed the hype surrounding their Cecafa Kagame Cup semi-final duel against defending champions Azam set for Wednesday at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.
Reigning Tanzanian champions Simba take on Zanzibar outfit Jeshi la Kujenga Uchumi (JKU) – who eliminated Singida United 4-3 on post-match penalties after a 0-0 draw in 120 minutes, in the second semi-final which kicks off at 5pm.
Mieno, who featured for the ice-cream makers in 2013, admits that a lot has changed since he left but insists "there’s nothing special in the current crop."
“A lot has changed at Azam since I left so nothing special about them, we hope to play for a win and advance to the final,” said Mieno.
Gor coach Dylan Kerr revealed his charges will not be lining up for revenge against a team they lost 2-0 in the 2015 Cecafa Kagame Cup final at the same venue.
“I watched the final few days after arriving as Simba coach and I must admit Gor made a couple of mistakes in that game, maybe my boys will be on a revenge mission,” said Kerr, who will miss defensive midfielder Ernest Wendo through injury.
Wendo sustained a groin injury 43 minutes into their 2-1 victory over Ugandan champions Vipers on Sunday.
In his absence, Kerr is likely to partner Philemon Otieno and Humphrey Mieno in midfield with Charles Momanyi and Harun Shakava combining at the back as Boniface Oluoch mans the post.
Jacques Tuyisenge, who looked sharp in Tuesday’s training session at Uhuru Stadium, is set to lead the attack alongside quarter-final hero Francis Mustafa.
“It’s not about revenge because if it gets into the players' heads, they’ll make mistakes. It is important to focus on our game, create many chances and be clinical upfront,” added Kerr, who is seeking to end Gor's 33-year drought for the regional title.
Azam coach Dutchman Hans Van der Pluijm has put emphasis on minimising individual mistakes committed in their 4-2 win over Rayon Sports of Rwanda on Monday.
“To be very honest, it makes little sense to know much about your opponent, what matters is your own team to play to their strength with the tactical discipline, be compact and minimise individual mistakes,” said the Dutchman, who will once more rely on Spanish second tier side CD Tenerife-bound Shaban Iddi Chilunda who tops the scorers chart on seven goals.
Gor Mahia v Azam (National stadium, 2pm)
Simba v Singida United (National stadium, 5pm)