There is a growing sense of optimism within Gor Mahia’s camp ahead of today’s (4pm) crucial Caf Champions League preliminary round return leg tie against APR of Rwanda at Nyayo Stadium.
Though the Kenyan record champions’ off the pitch issues played a part in the 2-1 first leg defeat in Kigali last weekend, stand-in coach Sammy ‘Pamzo’ Omollo is confident of overturning the deficit today.
The former Kenyan international and current Posta Rangers coach has been in charge of Gor Mahia for two weeks since Brazilian coach Roberto Oliveira was disqualified from handling the team in continental competitions.
But buoyed by the availability of teenage sensation Ben Omala, who missed the Kigali trip due to national junior team (U20) commitment and yesterday’s timely donation of tracksuits by Management Consultant and sports enthusiast Eliud Owalo, K’Ogalo looks ready for the decisive tie.
And with the important away goal having kept Gor’s qualification hopes to the next round alive, Pamzo has urged his players to be solid at the back and ruthless in front of goal.
“It is a serious match for us but we want to be very calm as much as possible. The house is not burning only that we have to be very smart in whatever we are doing in terms of defending and take our chances. But to be honest, I’m pleased with what I have seen in the team for the two weeks I’ve been around,” Pamzo told Standard Sports after yesterday’s training at Nyayo Stadium.
“We had a very good result in Kigali last weekend and we are motivated with the goal we scored there. But we have to play it hard and smart. For us to advance to the next stage we must score and try to keep a clean sheet.”
While he bemoaned the absence of experienced goalkeeper Boniface Oluoch, who is down with malaria, the coach said the return of Omala from the recently concluded Cecafa U20 championship in Tanzania is a big boost to the team.
“Apart from Oluoch (Boniface) the rest of the players are available for selection. There are chances Oluoch might not play, but if he does I think Mathew (Gad) will cover him,” said Pamzo.
“The good thing that has happened with the squad is that Omala (Benson) has come back from the national team. I think he is going to add a lot of power upfront.”
The youngster, who joined Gor Mahia in the offseason from Western Stima is eager to make his continental debut.
“Of course it’s not going to be an easy match, but we will try and give our best,” said Omala.