• According to the club’s chairman Ambrose Rachier, out of the profiles of the 23 players submitted to the continental body, only 15 were approved for the match
• Oluoch tips the combination of Robert Mapigano and Fredrick Odhiambo to keep a clean sheet in the match.
Kenyan champions Gor Mahia will rue late registration of players to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) as the club has been forced to jet out today with 15 players for the first leg of the preliminary round against Aigle Noir of Burundi.
The match scheduled to be played at the Stade Prince Louis in Bujumbura on Sunday will see the newly appointed head coach Steven Polack begin his tenure on a rather sour note as a large chunk of the players will miss the trip after Caf failed to clear them for the match.
According to the club’s chairman Ambrose Rachier, out of the profiles of the 23 players submitted to the continental body, only 15 were approved for the match and will leave for Bujumbura this morning. Rachier, however, remained hopeful that the rest will be given the green-light to play in the return leg.
“It’s unfortunate that we will only have 15 players for the first leg.
Caf did not approve the entire list we submitted to them but they should be cleared before the second leg. We have already secured air tickets for the 15,” he noted. The return leg is set for August 24 in Nairobi.
Meanwhile, experienced goalkeeper Boniface Oluoch has tipped the combination of Robert Mapigano and Fredrick Odhiambo to keep a clean sheet in the match.
Oluoch, who will miss the trip thanks to an injury, believes the duo will be instrumental in the club’s quest to launch their bid to advance to the elusive group stages of the tournament without conceding a goal against the reigning Burundi champions.
The former Kenyan international, who is regarded as the club’s first-choice goalkeeper termed his fellow glove men at the club as equal to the task and predicted an easy win for the Kenyan champions who will be under the tutelage of their new British coach Polack.
Last season, Gor heavily relied on Odhiambo in their Caf sojourn and is set to face stiff competition for playing time from Mapigano who was shipped from Tanzania’s Singida United.
“ I have faith with the two goalkeepers who will represent the club in the away match. It’s going to be a tough match but I believe the starter will keep a clean sheet. I am yet to recover fully but the department is safe with the two players.”
Gor will start of life in the event without their former tactician Hassan Oktay who guided them to the quarter finals of the Confederations Cup last season but unceremoniously left last week as well as their skipper Haroun Shakava who joined Zambia’s Nkana Red Devils.
Oluoch, who was expected to fill in the shoes of Shakava courtesy of his experience, revealed that the technical bench settled for the battle hardened centre half Joash Onyango as their new captain with Kenneth Muguna being appointed his assistant.
The former Tusker goalkeeper exuded optimism that the club will reap a convincing win rather than going for a draw and capitalise on home advantage for a win in the return leg.
“The team is capable of bagging a win away as we have a new coach and good players. The atmosphere may not favour us but I am certain the team will hunt for a win by all means.”
Should Gor emerge victorious in the preliminary round, they will face the winner between AS Sonidep and USM Alger of Niger and Algerian respectively. The first leg between the two was due last evening at the Stade General Seyni Kountche in Niamey.