NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar. 15- Gor Mahia FC head coach, Dylan Kerr, has omitted Ivorian striker, Ephrem Guikan and stand-in skipper, Kevin Omondi from his 20-man playing squad that departs for Tunis on Thursday night.
Kerr unveiled his travelling party that will take on Tunisian heavyweights, Esperance de Tunis on Sunday with the tie evenly poised at 0-0 following the opening leg of their 2018 CAF Champions League first round knockout clash in Machakos.
The Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions are scheduled to travel via Doha and are expected to land at the Carthage Airport in the Tunisian capital just after midday.
Gor initially planned to leave Nairobi a day earlier but officials in Tunis kept the Kenyan titans in the dark with talk of the match being played on Friday or Saturday before they confirmed it would go down Sunday on Wednesday evening.
Rwandese pair; Jacques Tuyisenge, Meddie Kagere and Kenyan attacking winger, George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo, will spearhead the search for goal at the famous Rades Stadium with Ivorian striker Guikan, dropped from the travelling squad.
Guikan returned to the K’Ogalo team in their 1-0 victory over basement side, Nzoia Sugar FC after being injured in their clash against Tusker FC where he famously missed a sitter in a 0-0 draw.
Gor recorded their fifth win of the KPL season to open a three-point gap at the summit of the KPL on Sunday after six games.
Kevin Omondi who skippered the team and scored the only goal of the match against Nzoia also failed to make the Tunis party as Kerr continues his squad rotation policy due a hectic opening to the 2018 campaign.
The Briton who led the record domestic win winners to their 16th title last season will be keen to avoid the fate that befell the club in the 2014 Champions League where Esperance hammered Gor 5-0 to progress 8-2 on aggregate at the same phase of the competition.
K’Ogalo were blown away by a Haythem Jouini quickfire hat-trick (45’,49’57’) with Ghanaian Harrison Aful (55’) and Idriss Mhirsi (75’) sealing the rout after Espereance came away with a 3-2 victory in the first leg in Nairobi.
Kerr accused Esperance of ‘anti-football’ following their first leg meeting at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos while retaining optimism his side were capable of forcing a result in Tunisia to echo their 1987 CAF Winners Cup (Mandela Cup) victory where they left Tunis with a 2-2 draw en route to a 1-1 home draw to lift the trophy.
“The weight is on Esperance, not us. They will be under pressure to deliver while playing in front of their fans,” Kerr told SportPesa News at the time.
Gor need an outright victory at best or force a scoring draw to progress to the second round of the elite continental club competition where 16 aggregate winners will go on to the lucrative group stages of the competition.
The losers of the ties will enter the second-tier CAF Confederations Cup play-off round.
Goalkeepers: Boniface Oluoch, Shaban Odhoji
Defenders: Harun Shakava (captain), Godfrey Walusimbi, Wesley Onguso, Joash Onyango, Joachim Oluoch, Charles Momanyi
Midfielders: Philemon Otieno, Ernest Wendo, Humphrey Mieno, Lawrence Juma, Cassidy Okeyo, Francis Kahata, Sammy Onyango, Bernard Ondiek, Boniface Omondi
Forwards: Jacques Tuyisenge, Meddie Kagere, George Odhiambo