Gor Mahia vs Al Khartoum preview

Gor Mahia will be on a high after two convincing wins in the 2015 CECAFA club cup aka Kagame cup. It is a stark contrast to what pertained in the 2014 edition where Gor Mahia put on a listless performance even against minnows like Djibouti Telecom.

This is the confident backdrop against which Gor Mahia will take on Al Khartoum. The Sudanese side are also full of confidence, having beaten Djibouti Telecom 5-0 and KMKM 2-1.

In the Al Khartoum line-up will be former Gor Mahia midfield ace Anthony Akumu. It was he who scored the winning goal when his side beat KMKM.

Though he (Akumu) says he supported the club as a youngster and still has friends at the club, Akumu says he will be a professional first.

“I still have many friends in the club but I don’t think that will complicate things for me. Winning the title is our ambition in this tournament and I know that I have a great responsibility to make that happen. The coach has spoken to us about the match and I am planning to give my best performance to ensure that we record a winning result,” he said to the Nation.

Akumu also thinks that a good performance at the Kagame cup will open up doors to Europe.

“My ambition is to play in Europe but in the mean time I want to focus on giving my best performances for Khartoum. We have a job to do here and nothing else will be on my mind on Friday other that victory,” he continued.

So Gor Mahia will be facing a familiar but  determined foe. But truth be told, unlike last season, this year Gor Mahia has enough petrol in the tank to neutralize Akumu. For one thing, Collins Okoth is preferred ahead of Akumu at national team level. And even if Okoth is still stifled by his thigh injury, there is the ebullient Khalid Aucho whose performances have been impressive of late along with Walusimbi, Abondo and Wafula plus Nizigiziyimana and Sibomana whose playmaking and passing skills are as good or better than any midfieder at this tournament.

The Sudanese side have in John Kwesi Appiah, a good coach with vast experience. He guided Ghana to qualification of the 2014 world cup, a feat which included beating the mighty Egypt 6-1. Ghana played extremely well at the world cup including a 2-2 draw with eventual winners Germany.

However in coach Frank Nuttall, Gor Mahia have an imaginative coach who has proven that he can match wits with any coach. He comprehensively the Young Africans coach Hans Van De Pluijm despite the latter having coached in the Dutch first division.

Al Khartoum who finished 4th in the 2014 Sudanese league, have a squad that is made primarily of Sudanese players with the exception of Akumu, Léonard Njousso (Cameroun) and John Arthur (Ghana). Of the Sudanese players, none of them feature in the current national team which is dominated by players from their more illustrious rivals, Al Merreikh and Al Hilal.

Salah Bilal is the one player Gor Mahia will need to watch closely. He has scored three goals so far in the tournament.

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Gor Mahia aiming for a miracle

Gor Mahia traoining in Doliesie image courtesy of Duncan Nganyi

Having watched Gor Mahia play international football for a long time now, I have never seen a match where they faced such tall odds to win away.

To begin with, the team barely made it to Brazzaville and probably would not have made it had it not been for the bailout from the KPL. The coach has been away for a few days now and the team missed several days of training this past week due to a player strike.

AC Leopards for their part warmed up for the match with a 2-0 league over rivals Inter club de Brazzaville in a Congo league match. Gor Mahia will not be at full strength. Aside from missing the Rwandese trio of Sibomana, Nizigiyimana and Kagere who are ineligible for this tournament, they will also be missing the services of Khalid Aucho who is suspended due to multiple yellow cards.

Still coach Frank Nuttall is confident that the team will be able to pull through despite the missed training sessions.

“I don’t think the situation will affect us at all. At the end of the day, they only missed one training session but they are back on track and should no have be affected when get to the pitch on Sunday,” Nuttall told goal.com.

Gor Mahia will be attempting to improve from their performance in 2014 when they exited at teh same stage. They will also be trying to exorcise the ghosts of of 1988 when Gor Mahia lost to Inter Club of Brazzaville after enduring harsh treatment at the hands of their hosts.

To advance, Gor Mahia will be hoping to win by a score of 2-1. Any type of draw will eliminate them. And Nuttall thinks Gor Mahia are capable of scoring in Brazzaville.

“They scored one goal in Nairobi. We can do the same away. If we are able to score a goal then we will have the match back on track and this is what we intend to do.”said Nutall to goal.com

 

 

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Gor Mahia to leave for Congo Friday

Gor Mahia are set to leave for Congo on Friday. The original plan was to leave on Wednesday but that came a cropper due to lack of funds.

In February, Gor Mahia’s trip to Madagascar was saved thanks to assistance from former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth. This time it was the KPL that gave Gor Mahia a grant.

“We’ve been given a grant by the Kenyan Premier League Limited and we shall travel to Brazzaville tomorrow (today) before we make

our way to Dolisie,” said Rachier to the Nation. He also said players have been paid part of the money owed to the in salaries.

The match will take place on Sunday afternoon. Gor Mahia will be battling against the odds having lost the first leg at home 0-1. And they will try to win despite missing two days of practise due to a player strike.

Rachier has re-iterated that the club’s primary focus is the Kenya Premier League.

“Our targets as a club focus more on retaining the KPL title than winning the Caf Champions League trophy. Besides, the national league, will have matches to honour long after the champion’s league tournament is over and that is why we were willing to forgo the competitions and instead use the little money we have to make the players comfortable. We have today given the players part of the money owed to them,” he continued.

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AC Leopards train in Cameroon

Gor Mahia’s opponents in the 2015 CAF champions league AC Leopards, have been in Douala Cameroon playing friendly matches in readiness for their encounter with Kogalo.

During their stay in Cameroon, they played two friendly matches. In their first match they played against Apejes Mfou who finished 5th in the 2014 Cameroonian league. The match ended scoreless.

In the second match encounter, they beat 2014 Cameroon league runners up Cosmos de Bafia 1-0. The winning goal was scored by Ntela Kalema. It is worth noting that Cosmos de Bafia recently eliminated KCC of Uganda beating them 3-1 on aggregate.

According to Rémy Ayayos Ikounga the team president, the 10-day training tour of Cameroon was designed to enable the team to perform well in the Africa champions league. According to Ikounga, he is determined that the team must reach the semi-final stages of the champions league, something they failed to do in two attempts.

The team perspective is that they played very well during their two matches and their new signings have integrated into the team very well. Among the new signings include Michel Mvoundo, who was signed from Asec Mimosas of CIV, Nicaise Zimbori, signed from Camerounian champions Coton Sport of Garoua,  Joel Babanda, signed from Etoile Douala,  Tresor Mukenga , signed from CARA Brazzaville,  Congolese Percy Akoli  signed from Etoile Sahel of Tunisia and Ankira Dua signed from their arch rivals Diables Noires. 

After their tour of Cameroon, AC Leopards flew to Pointe Noire before returning to their base in Dolisie.

AC Leopards will be desperate to keep the Congolese flag flying. All the other teams from Congo-Brazza were eliminated in the preliminary rounds. The other team from Congo-Brazza in the champions league, Diables Noires were pelted 6-2 by Raja Casablanca of Morocco. In the CAF confederations cup, Etoile Du Congo and CARA Brazaville were eliminated by MK Etancheite and AS Lome of Congo DRC and Togo respectively.

Who are AC Leopards

The team was formed in 1954. However until recently, they were not much of a factor in the Congolese scene. They won the league in 2012 and 2013 and were runners up in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

They won the CAF confederations cup in 2012. In 2013 they reached the group stages of the CAF champions league while in 2013 they lost in the second round to Al Hilal of Sudan.

The coach was previously the vastly experienced Belgian Patrick Aussems who played in the French top tier in the 1970s and has coached teams in France, West Africa and China since 1992. They are now coached by Lamine Ndiaye who coached the Senegal national team in 2008.

The team is based in Dolisie in the province of Niari hence their nickname: Fauves Niari.

Gor Mahia Pumped up

Defender Musa Mohamed is not too worried about the team’s poor defensive display in Madagascar. According to him, the team’s inability to master the poor conditions were to blame.

“It’s been raining heavily in Madagascar and so the surface of the playground was rather pathetic even without rains on the match day. CNAPS players know their pitch very well as opposed to us and they knew going for early goals would do it for them.

We took time to settle on the pitch and they were lucky to get those goals in the opening half. For a player to get used to such surface, one has to play several matches on it. You saw some of our players changing boots more than twice and that tells you something was not right with the surface,” he said to the club site.

Coach Frank Nuttall for his part is full of praise for the mental toughness shown by the players which enabled them to fight until the very end.

“It was an extremely tough match and from the first minute it was a hard work; I have to give credit to players because they managed to stick to the task after being mentality and physically strong.

“We underperformed in the first half but players realized at half time and true to their character they were able to react correctly and got the result that we needed. We hope to carry on the experience in our next match,” he said.

Nuttall also praised Collins Okoth who was making a return after his temper tantrum resulted in him being benched against Mathare United.

“Collins was suddenly fresh and I just felt that he would lift the midfield; Abondo is good he not only continues scoring goals but also helps motivate the team because his work rate is very high. His input in the second half was very good and he took some tough challenges so he is a tough boy,” Nuttall underscored.

Abondo who scored the lone goal in the first half has been instrumental to the team since rejoining at the beginning of the season from Tusker FC and hopes to maintain the tempo.

“The match was good though it was tough since we were away and the condition of the pitch was not good but its good we managed to get something. Its hard work that enables me to score and I thank God for the good form,” the attacker with six goals for Gor this season to his name said.

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