Gor braced for tricky USM Alger test amid uncertainties

Tuesday September 10 2019

Gor Mahia coach Steven Polack gives instructions during their training session on September 10, 2019 at the Camp Toyoyo grounds, Nairobi. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |


Gor Mahia's plans for this weekend's continental assignment in Algeria remain uncertain, but nevertheless, defender Wellington Ochieng has equated the challenge ahead to a 'game of the season' for the 18-time Kenyan champions.

The cash-strapped Kenyan champions are scheduled to play Algeria's USM Alger in the first leg of the 2019 Caf African Champions League first round matches in Algiers on Sunday.

The return leg match will be played at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, on the weekend of September 27-29, with the aggregate winner guaranteed passage to the lucrative group stage of the continent's premier club football competition.

Reaching the group stage comes with a purse of at least Sh56 million for the clubs, and an opportunity to compete against some of Africa’s finest clubs.

Twice in the past two seasons, K'Ogalo have failed to progress to the group stage of the African Champions League following controversial losses to Nigeria's Lobi Stars and Tunisia's Esperance respectively.

And Ochieng believes his team mates are alive to the enormity of the task ahead.


"It (qualifying for the group stage of the Champions League) is one of our targets for the season," explained the marauding right full-back.

"That makes Sunday’s assignment very important for the season. We are preparing in the best way possible and it will be important if we can get a positive result over there because we have the return leg at home."

Besides Ochieng, star attacker Nicholas Kipkirui, Harambee Stars duo of club captain Kenneth Muguna and Lawrence Juma, and defender Charles Momanyi are expected to play crucial role for Gor in Algeria on Sunday.

The club’s new signings Clifton Miheso, Francis Afiriye, and Gislein Yikpe will miss the match as they are yet to be registered to play in the competition.

Coach Steve Polack will also be seeking to maintain his unbeaten record since taking charge of the club at the start of the current season. He has masterminded the club's Super Cup win over Bandari, and has also overseen the elimination of Burundi's Aigle Noir Makamba on a 5-1 aggregate in the preliminary round of this tournament, plus that 5-2 thrashing over Tusker in the opening match of the league season.

But broke Gor's trip to Algiers was yet to be confirmed by Tuesday evening. Gor had written to the government early this week requesting for air tickets but the government turned down the request.

Club chairman Ambrose Rachier told Nation Sport the club needs Sh5 million for airfare, accommodation, visa, and local transport for the trip to Algiers.

Consequently, the club organised a fundraiser on Tuesday evening where Deputy President William Ruto and Nairobi governor Mike Sonko were among those invited.