La Digue-based Anse Reunion fly to Nairobi, Kenya, today for Saturday’s preliminary round away leg match at the Nyayo National Stadium.
Speaking to Sports Nation, manager Barbé said the absence of Malagasy Hassan Ali will be felt in midfield.
Ali, who joined Anse Reunion from La Digue’s other top flight team La Passe last year, has moved to Barclays league division one champions St Michel in the off-season.
“He is a good player and his absence will be felt in midfield. I, personally, don’t like the way he left the team and how the transfer procedures went about.
“Now St Michel are a more complete team than us and it’s a shame that they (St Michel) just keep poaching our players,” said manager Barbé.
Ali is the second foreign player to join St Michel from Anse Reunion in two years. Last year, Ali’s Malagasy colleague, striker Jean Del’Or Tsaralaza moved to the Anse Aux Pins-based team and played an important role in helping them retain the league title.
Coach Juel Ah-kong said although his players’ fitness is sub-standard, they have the necessary drive to see them through competitive matches.
“It’s always difficult to go right into a competition of this calibre after quite a long lay-off.
“Saturday’s game against Gor Mahia will be our first official match of the year and it will be a difficult task, especially as we are playing away,” said coach
Ah-kong whose team earned their ticket for the Caf Confederation Cup with a 3-2 win over Côte d’Or in last year’s Land Marine Cup final.
He noted that despite all the odds that are against them, they are determined to get a positive result from the away match.
“It is important that my players stay focused for the whole 90 minutes and even more depending on the injury time to be played if there is any.
“Therefore, we will not take an all-out attack approach. We will instead rely on counter-attacks as we do not know much about Gor Mahia. It will be important for us to get an away goal,” added coach Ah-kong.
Like manager Barbé, coach Ah-kong is unhappy with Ali’s move to St Michel but added: “it’s his choice and we have to respect it”.
“Ali is no more with Anse Reunion and we have to look for another solution. His presence would have been a plus for us, but it’s not the case,” he said.
Courtesy of Nation SC