Additional reporting from the Nation
Gor Mahia completed a two-day training camp in Ghana in readiness for tomorrow’s Caf Africa Champions League first round, return leg contest against Nigeria’s Lobi Stars.
And while at it, the club chairman Ambrose Rachier has turned to spiritual inspiration as he prays for an aggregate win against the seasoned West African side.
The game will kick off at 4pm local time (2pm Kenyan time) at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium in Enugu, some 500km from the country’s capital Abuja.
“We are in Ghana out of certain circumstances because the team missed the connecting flight from Accra to Abuja and the next available one is tomorrow (today). We have had to look for a good hotel and training ground in Accra,” explained Rachier.
The Kenyan delegation is expected in Abuja on Friday afternoon, before boarding a two-hour chartered flight to Enugu.
Coach Hassan Oktay and his charges won the first leg match 3-1 in Nairobi last Sunday and can thus afford a draw or even solitary goal loss in Enugu to win the match on aggregate and progress to the group stage of the continent’s premier club competition.
Progressing to the group stage of this competition will attract a Sh58 million cash prize for Gor Mahia, with the tournament winner set to pocket Sh250 million.
“I am confident heading into this match. It will be historic because no Kenyan team has progressed to the group stage since this tournament was rebranded. This task is like crossing the bridge to Canaan and I leave it in the hands of God because we have done everything possible to prepare the boys,” Rachier added.
Oktay will rely on Rwandan hit man Jacques Tuyisenge who scored the opening goal in the reverse fixture in Nairobi to lead the attack.
Midfielder Ernest Wendo will miss out through injury, but the technical team has the in-form Samuel Onyango, Humphrey Mieno, Philemon Otieno and Cercidy Okeyo as backup.
Captain Harun Shakava and goalie Boniface Oluoch are also set to play prominent roles.
Meanwhile Benue State Governor has approved the provision of free buses to convey Lobi Stars Football Club supporters to Enugu to cheer on the hosts.
“The decision of the Governor to mobilize massive support for our team serves to boost their morale so as to enable them to overturn the 3-1 defeat suffered in Kenya,” a statement on the club’s social media pages explained.
The Deputy Governor, Engineer Benson Abounu will lead the state delegation to Enugu for the match.