Wednesday, May 16 – 7:00p.m Local time – Moi International Sports Centre, Nairobi, Kenya
Dylan Kerr’s charges are set to lace up their boot straps on Wednesday night when Gor Mahia welcomes Algerian side USM Alger in the second match of Group D of the CAF Confederation Cup.
K’Ogalo are currently joint second in the pool with Rayon Sports, after the Kenyan Premier League champions missed a litany of chances to draw 1-1 with the Rwandan side in their opening match of the group.
USM Alger currently leads the pool on three points, following their 4-0 capitulation of Tanzanian side Yanga in their opening match.
There is an air of perpetual positivity ahead of the continental showdown after Gor Mahia warmed up to the game by testing their mettle against Hull City in a promotional match over the weekend.
The encounter, which was facilitated for by betting giants SportPesa, took place at the newly renovated Kasarani Stadium which was opened to the public for the first time since its upgrade.
Kerr left nothing to chance with the line-up, as he began with Boniface Oluoch in goal, Harun Shakava and Godfrey Walusimbi in defense, while Francis Kahata pulled the strings in the middle of the park for the attacking duo of Jacques Tuyisenge and Ivorian Ephrem Guikana.
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The Gor Mahia boss furthermore ringed several changes to the squad after the break, in fulfillment of his promise of giving as many of his charges game time, given the presence of several scouts that accompanied the Hull City entourage.
Although it was a noncompetitive match, the attendance imbued the national desire of football supporters across the country, as the 60,000 capacity stadium was full to the brim, with a considerable number of fans following proceedings from outside the stadium.
The hosts were inherently good, even launching an audacious bid against the Hull Tigers who were evidently struggling with the change in altitude and humidity, but Mayienga still couldn’t find the breakthrough as the match ended with a barren draw after normal time.
The game nonetheless immediately proceeded to post-match penalties, where Gor Mahia imploded despite having a comfortable lead at the start, inextricably losing 4-3 to the English Championship side.
This was the third time in recent memory that a Kenya side lost against an English team; twice against Hull City and a defeat against Everton in July last year.
Despite postponing their finger licking encounter with Ulinzi Stars over the weekend, Gor Mahia’s sanctuary of first place was merely trimmed by a paltry point, after Mathare United stuttered for the umpteenth time to register a goalless draw with Bandari.
The draw means K’Ogalo still lead the log on 30 points, four points ahead of Mathare in second, despite having three games in hand.
USM Alger on the other hand are fifth in the Algerian Ligue 1 with 42 points, a whopping 14 points behind CS Constantine who have without question secured the League, given their five point cushion with a single match left to the close of the campaign.
In his first interview after arriving in Nairobi on Monday night, USMA head coach Miloud Hamdi revealed his relief at the absence of Gor Mahia’s striker Meddie Kagere who is suspended for the match having picked up two yellow cards.
It will however be a level playing field for both sides, as USMA’s main man upfront Oussama Darfaloum will likewise miss the tie via suspension.
Gor Mahia vs. USM Alger Match prediction
The Reds and Blacks are a strong attacking side that only needs one moment of magic to spur a tinderbox.
Gor Mahia know they have to be equal to the task or risk slipping away definitively given that Yanga also host Rayon Sports on Wednesday in the other group match.
The North Africans are fluid going forward but Gor Mahia are lethal on home turf and they can always count on the Green Army to rally behind the team.
Match prediction: Both teams to score at WilliamHill.com