Kenyan champions Gor Mahia will start as favourites to reach the first round of the CAF Champions League when they host Burundian outfit Aigle Noir in the return leg fixture of their preliminary round at Moi Stadium, Kasarani tomorrow.
K’Ogalo held the Black Eagles to a goalless draw in the first leg almost a fortnight ago and with key players returning to the side in front of their fervent supporters, victory will not be beyond them.
“We saw what they are all about in the first leg and to be honest, they are not an easy team. They play with their hearts and are aggressive. But we need to stick to our plans and philosophy and play some good football at home and score goals,” said Gor coach Steve Polack, who is yet to see his side concede a goal in his two competitive matches in charge of the record league winners.
K’Ogalo, who had only 15 players to choose from in the first leg will have a full squad available with the exception of Ivorian Gnamien Yikpei, Maurice Ojwang, Ghanaian striker Francis Afriyie and Kenyan international Clifton Miheso, who will be free to feature in the next stage should Gor go past Aigle Noir.
Midfielder Ernest Wendo, who was suspended for the first leg will be available but face a fight on his hands to get back the anchorman slot from new boy Tobias Otieno.
The former Sony Sugarman has impressed in his last couple of games with his ‘take no prisoners’ approach to the game, an attitude that earned him a red card for two bookable offenses in their Super Cup win over Bandari last Sunday.
“I will not change the way I play. I do not go out to intentionally commit fouls but my role is to break up the opposition play and that is a situation that is fraught with risks but I am willing to sacrifice everything to ensure my team wins,” said Otieno, who started his footballing career with Manyattta United in 2005 before joining Sony in 2016 after finishing his ‘O’ Level education at Omba Secondary School in Migori.
Upfront where Gor have always been spoilt of options, this time round they only have Nicholas Kipkirui and Samuel Onyango to choose from in the absence of most of their new signings, with only Dickson Ambundo eligible to play.
Victory will see the winner being pitted against either USM Alger (Algeria) or SONIDEP of Niger with USM leading 2-1 going into the second leg in Algiers.