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Gor Mahia begin Sh56 million hunt against Lobi Stars

Saturday December 15 2018

Lobi Stars players train at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on December 15, 2018 on the eve of their Caf Champions League first round match against Gor Mahia. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

Lobi Stars players train at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on December 15, 2018 on the eve of their Caf Champions League first round match against Gor Mahia. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

VINCENT OPIYO
By VINCENT OPIYO
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The Sh56 million prize money for making the Caf Champions League group stage is the motivation Kenyan champions Gor Mahia need as they host Lobi Stars of Nigeria in the first round first leg on Sunday afternoon at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.

However, K’Ogalo have to capitalise on home advantage in the 4pm kick off before completing the mission next Friday in Enugu state, approximately 805 kilometres from Nigeria’s capital city, Lagos.

The aggregate winner proceeds to the group stages due next month with a surety of pocketing Sh56 million and a further Sh66 million for reaching the quarter-finals of the coveted competition whose winner takes home Sh256 million.

Gor bagged Sh27 million for gracing the group stages of the Caf Confederation Cup in the last campaign won by Moroccan outfit Raja Casablanca.

Tickets retail at Sh500 VIP and Sh200 and will go on sale from 9am at Kenya Cinema, Safari Park roundabout, Gates 2 and 12, Roysambu and Ngomongo police station.

Tunisian Slim Belkhouas has been appointed the centre referee to be assisted by compatriots Khalil Hassani and Jridi Faouzi while Nasrallah Jaouadi will serve as the fourth official. Ugandan Mike Letti is the match commissioner.

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Gor captain Harun Shakava says the emphatic 4-0 win over Zoo Kericho in a league match in midweek was a morale booster heading into this crucial encounter.

“We are ready for the game,” he said adding, “we want to win at home with a big margin so that we head to Nigeria with a good result in order to qualify for the group stage. This is our main focus to up our achievement from last season where we reached the Confederation Cup last 16.”

The 17-time SportPesa Premier League (SPL) champions will miss the services of Ivorian striker Ephrem Guikan who was not registered for this competition.

Midfielder Francis Kahata remains doubtful due to the uncertainty surrounding his move to Algerian champions CS Constantine while striker Jacques Tuyisenge is available after being sidelined with an injury.

Lobi Stars, who knocked out Cameroon side USM de Loum 2-1 on aggregate, kept their travelling itinerary a top secret but they arrived in the country on Friday night and had a mandatory feel of the match venue Saturday evening after the Caf Confederation Cup first round first leg fixture pitting Kariobangi Sharks and Ghanaian giants Asante Kotoko.

The team was handed the ticket to represent Nigeria in this competition despite the indefinite postponement of the Nigerian Premier League (NPL) in July due to crisis in the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF).

The league management company thus reached a consensus to end the league after 24 rounds in order to meet the October 15 deadline set by the Confederation of African Football (Caf) that every nation across the continent should confirm their flag bearer in the club competitions.

Lobi, founded in 1981, is coached by Nigerian Solomon Ogbeide and host their matches at the 15,000-seater Aper Aku stadium.

“It’s the desire of every coach to win a game but we still have work to do,” noted Ogbeide.

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