Cecafa final within Gor Mahia’s reach
After safely navigating the group matches and a quarter final contest, the prospects of appearing in the finals of the Cecafa Club Championship are now very real for Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia.
But to get there K’Ogalo will have to contend with Sudanese side Al Khartoum in the first semifinal match on Friday afternoon.
The lunch time showdown will kick off at 1:45pm, after which home team Azam will come up against Ugandan side KCCA in the second semifinal.
After their final group stage match against Djibouti Telecom, Gor Mahia’s Scottish tactician coach Frank Nuttall insisted that their ambition to make it past the group stages had already been fulfilled, and that they have nothing to lose going forward in the competition.
But Nuttall would repudiate his sentiments after a perfunctory 2-1 win over South Sudanese club Al Malakia at the quarterfinals, saying that he expects his charges to step up their game in the semis so that the team can reach the finals.
“We have been sluggish in our last two matches and that now needs to stop. I sympathize with the players because they are playing several intense matches within a short period of time but at this point, everybody must show character and give their best performance regardless,” Nuttall said during the team’s training session on Thursday.
K’Ogalo have won four out of five matches in the tournament with the 1-1 draw against Al Khartoum as their only flaw thus far in the competition. Tanzanian giants Yanga, KMKM of Zanzibar, Djibouti ‘s Telecom and Malakia have also fallen to K’Ogalo’s might.
The team is however guilty of showcasing unconvincing performances in their last two matches against Telecom and Malakia, and were lucky to escape unscathed against opponents who appeared hungrier for success.
In Friday’s semis, Gor Mahia will come up against a ruthless Al Khartoum who laid bare their title aspirations on Tuesday with a 4-0 annihilation of Rwanda’s APR.
Their Ghanaian coach Kwesi Appiah has said that while he has a lot of respect for Gor Mahia, he will be going all out for a win.
“They (Gor Mahia) have a very good squad with some really quality players, but from my experience during the World Cup, I know that there is no big or small team. All teams are here by merit and are capable of springing an upset,” Appiah said.
Gor Mahia (Kenya) vs Al Khartoum (Sudan) – 1:45pm
Azam (Tanzania) vs KCCA (Uganda) – 4.15pm