The Kenyan champions initiate their quest for success in Caf Champions League against the unknown West African outfit at Nyayo Stadium
Will Gor Mahia do away with Gabonese outfit US Bitam and qualify for the first round of African Champions League or fall by the wayside at the first hurdle as has been the norm for Kenyan clubs in this competition?
The Kenyan champions initiate their quest for continental success in the most lucrative club football tournament on the continent with a tricky preliminary round assignment against the unknown West African outfit at Nyayo Stadium on Saturday.
K’Ogalo coach Bobby Williamson, fresh from assisting the popular club clinch a first league title in 18 years, is up for this one. The Scot says his charges have gotten over the team's recent disappointing performance - and specifically the 3-1 drubbing by Sofapaka in Kenya Power Charity Cup – and are ready to play ball in Africa.
“We can’t dwell too much on that (result) but if you insist, I’ll tell you we played very well. Almost everything was as per my expectations apart from the result. Still, this is a different kind of opposition that we don't know much about, but we are ready for whatever they will throw at us,” the former Uganda Cranes coach told KPL official website.
The tactician's sentiments were echoed by defender Godfrey Walusimbi. The club's new acquisition from Uganda, also just fell short of acknowledging this is the kind of game that attracted him to the club.
“Playing in Champions League is a big thing. We want to play well and go as far as we can. This is one of those games where you don't have a clue about the qualities of the player you will be marking. This calls for caution, but we will be up for this tie, make no mistake,” the left fullback, who’s had stints in DR Congo and Sweden, added.
WAR CRY | US Bitam coach Francois Omam Biyik at City Stadium on Thursday
Walusimbi aside, Williamson can rely on a pool of experienced players including the defender’s compatriot Geoffrey “Baba” Kizito, Kenya internationals Patrick Oboya, George “Blackberry” Odhiambo, David “Calabar” Owino, Jeremy Onyango, Dan Sserunkuma, Rama Salim and Shaban Kenga to produce the desired goods.
Apoart from having three players who featured for Gabon team in the recently concluded African Nations Championships (Chan), US Bitam, has the experienced head and tactical expertise of former Cameroon international Francois Omam Biyik to count on.
The Cameroonian national, who holds French citizenship, is the team’s head coach having assumed the reins mid last year, and is hoping to avoid defeat in this engagement. “A 1-1 draw will be ideal, but winning is our target. I am told they (Gor Mahia) are a physical side, who have very noisy fans. We also have some attributes that will help us achieve our aim,” the 47-year-old former Canon Yaounde, Marseille and Lens attacker said.
Gor Mahia have a clean bill of health ahead of this tie, save for youngster Tim Wanyonyi and striker Kevin ‘Ade’ Omondi, who have been ruled out through injury.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
The last time Gor Mahia played in the competition was in 1996 when they were edged out in the first round by Dynamos of Zimbabwe.
US Bitam founded in 1947 have made only two shows in the Champions League which have both ended in first round exits and will be hoping to do better this time around.
Gor Mahia have not scored even a single goal in their last three Confederations Cup first round matches.
This is the first continental fixture for Gor Mahia coach Bobby Williamson. Williamson won the league with Gor Mahia last year after an 18 year wait.
US Bitam is handled by former Cameroonian international Omam Biyik.
US Bitam has five players in Gabon national team which took part in the Africa Nations Championships (Chan) held in South Africa last month.