Its everything or nothing for Gor Mahia
Kenyan champions Gor Mahia will carry the hopes of a football glory starved nation when they take on home team Azam in the finals of the Cecafa Club Championship on Sunday from 3:45pm at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.
This will be Gor Mahia’s first appearance in the final of the regional tournament since 1985 when they were crowned champions after beating bitter rivals AFC leopards 2-0 in Khartoum, Sudan
Both teams are yet to taste defeat in this year’s competitions, which makes Sunday’s game a potential thriller as both teams stake a claim to the ultimate prize in regional club football.
Azam have been very solid defensively having reached the final without conceding a goal. Upfront they will look upto the striking duo of Kipre Cheche and Shomari Kapombe for goals in their quest for a first ever Cecafa Club title.
Coach Stewart Hall has acknowledged that he is struggling with unfitness levels in his squad, but remains confident that he has enough to hold their own against Gor Mahia.
“Prior to this tournament we had only two weeks of training, and the players are not so fit. Gor Mahia players are in a better physical condition. They are big and strong and they are smack in the middle of their league,” Hall said.
“I know we shall struggle to maintain optimum energy levels, but if we defend as well as we have been defending during the tournament, I know we shall be able to overcome them,” he added.
On their part, K’Ogalo are hopeful that their good record will carry them through with coach Frank Nuttall declaring that they will be going for nothing short of a win.
“We are prepared for anything. Tomorrow (Sunday) is a very important day for us. Winning the trophy is the only thing that remains and I trust that the boys will put their best foot forward. Although we are under pressure to win, but I don’t want the boys to feel like they have to win it, because we have already given a good account of ourselves,” Nuttall said.
With five goals to his name, striker Michael Olunga is in the running for the tournament’s top scorer’s award. Focus will also be on assistant coach John Bobby Ogolla, who was part of the team that won the tournament 30 years ago.
Ogolla says that it will be a very emotional game for him, and that he will feel a deep sense of accomplishment if he wins the title as a tactician.
“I think I am the happiest person in the team right now. I can’t wait for that match because already I am having dizzying memories of 1985. I haven’t planned on how I will celebrate if we win but I hope it will be the best day of my life,” Ogolla told Daily Nation Sport.
The final will be preceded with the third-place play-off match between Uganda’s KCCA and Al Khartoum of Sudan.