Sport

Depleted Gor Mahia return to continental stage

Depleted Gor Mahia return to continental stage

Tusker FC midfielder Rodgers Ouma (left) vies for the ball with Gor Mahia forward Samuel Onyango during their Football Kenya Federation Super Cup match at Thika Stadium on September 22, 2021.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

Record Football Kenya Federation Premier League champions Gor Mahia return to continental football this week when they play Ahly Merowe of Sudan in the Caf Confederations Cup first round at the New Suez Stadium in Egypt on Friday.

K'ogalo got a bye in the preliminary round which was played last month due to their good performance in Confederations Cup in recent times.

Ahly Merowe qualified for the first round after edging out Atlabara of South Sudan 4-0 on aggregate in the two-leg match.

The Sudanese side opted to host the match in Egypt due to lack of a standard stadium approved by Caf for staging continental matches.

On Sunday, Gor Mahia British Coach Mark Harrisson told Nation Sport that he has only 17 players available for the game due to the Fifa transfer ban for failing to pay salaries owed to former coach Steven Polack and Tanzanian winger Dickson Ambudo.

The duo have since been settled. The ban caused K'Ogalo not to register enough players during the Caf registration window period in July.

Fifa last week piled more misery on K'Ogalo when it added a second transfer ban on the club for failing to pay Ghanaian midfielder Jackson Owusu his dues and ordered the club to pay him Sh3 million.

Harrisson revealed that the 17 players and members of the technical bench will leave on Wednesday for the game whose return leg will be played a week later behind closed doors at Nyayo National Stadium owing to Covid 19 restrictions.

The aggregate winner will qualify for the second round of the competition.

"We only have 17 players available for the Caf Confederation Cup because of the Fifa ban hence new players couldn't be registered earlier. We have no injuries in the squad and have intensified our training sessions ahead of the Caf and league matches," said the 60 years old British tactician.

The coach however clarified that the club had registered all its new players before the second ban including former AFC Leopards midfielder Austin Odhiambo who is eligible to feature in the league.

Harrisson, who is in his first full season at the club since replacing Portuguese tactician Carlos Vaz Pinto, also said the team has had enough time during the two weeks international break to hit full fitness.

After the Super Cup loss to Tusker last month, Harisson had lamented that the team had little time to prepare for the new season.

"I have gauged my players and we are now ready for the league and Caf matches. I expect good performance in both competitions," he added.

Gor Mahia won the Betway Cup  4-2 on post match penalties against arch rivals AFC Leopards on July 4 to earn the Caf Confederation Cup slot.

K'Ogalo have represented Kenya in the Caf Champions League for the past four seasons but have always been relegated to the Caf Confederation Cup.

Last  season, Gor were knocked out of the Caf Champions League by CR Belouizdad on 8-1 aggregate in January in the first round.

Gor were later knocked out of the Caf Confederation Cup second round 3-2 on aggregate by Napsa Stars of Zambia in February.

The best performance in the Caf Confederation Cup in recent times was posted by Gor Mahia in the 2018/19 season when they reached the quarter-final stage but were knocked out by RS Berkane of Morocco 7-1 on aggregate in April 2019.