NAIROBI, Kenya- Record 16-time champions, Gor Mahia FC players believe their clash against visiting Hull City FC in Nairobi on Sunday is theirs to lose.
The SportPesa Premier League (SPL) titleholders host the second-tier English Football League Championship outfit, the Tigers at the 60,000-seater Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani in a landmark game set for a 3pm local time (+3GMT) kick-off.
K’Ogalo are unbeaten on home soil this season, a fact the players attribute to match fitness with leading striker and Rwandese international, Jacques Tuyisenge noting the quality of talent they signed ahead of the campaign has been key.
The player who scored in their 1-2 to English Premier League side, Everton FC last July added their performance against the Tofees will give them a lift when they lock horns with Nijel Adkins’ side.
“Everton is a highly ranked side, but we gave them a run for their money in the first half. I feel we will exceed this performance when we take on Hull at Kasarani because Gor is on fire.
“I’m happy I scored that marvelous goal against Everton. This is what I’m promising against Hull,” Tuyisenge charged when speaking to SportPesa News ahead of the contest.
“The crowd will be on our side, how lovely is that? I urge our supporters to turn-up in large numbers to make this happen,” Tuyisenge rallied.
His international teammate, Meddie Kagere, added they would not surrender the initiative as they did against Everton when they play the Tigers.
“We will be very alert and our concentration will last the entire 90 minutes. We have to win this game,” underlined Kagere.
“The atmosphere will be conducive, we are also favored by the climate,” Kagere who made his way back to the Rwanda international squad recently, added.
Defender and club captain, Harun Shakava who got K’Ogalo’s season off to a bright start when he scored the winner against domestic arch rivals, AFC Leopards SC in the 2018 KPL Super Cup backed his side to deliver victory.
“I know Fraizer Campbell, he’s a lethal striker who should not be given a chance to shoot,” stressed Shakava while adding that the former EPL side should brace for a tough game in Nairobi.
Their hectic schedule that has seen British head coach, Dylan Kerr and his charges play 20 games since the start of the season has not afforded them a chance to watch Hull in their Championship campaign where they finished 18th.
“I rarely watch foreign football unless it is a major event like the El Classico, UEFA Champions League final or the World Cup,” Tuyisenge underscored.
Kagere, who is a staunch Arsenal FC fan, has however, watched Hull play before but never took keen interest to identify their top threats because he was not expecting to be involved in a match against the Tigers.
“I saw them play SportPesa All Stars in England last year but I can hardly recall their line-up,” he confessed.
Coach Kerr paid tribute to his opposite number, Adkins but backed his side to make the country proud by caging the Tigers.
“Nigel is a well-respected coach and our relationship dates back to the days we were at Reading FC and Sheffield United FC.
“I know his hope is also to overcome Gor because he is rebuilding the squad. I like the way he is so passionate about the club,” the Briton added.
Kerr is aware of the weight of expectation among the passionate team supporters who are itching to witness their beloved club notch another first in Kenyan football by beating the English side.
“I have told my players to give their all, they have to market themselves and Kenya across the continent and beyond since this match will be beamed all over the world.
“A game like this doesn’t come quite often and so they should put their best foot forward with many players wishing to be in their shoes. Let them grab the opportunity and run with it,” Kerr advised.
Like other football team, the Gor fraternity has their pre-match rituals they believe give them the spirit and edge to face competition.
“I always shave every Friday ahead of weekend games,” acknowledged Kerr with a chuckle.
His star striker and club record signing, Tuyisenge deeply meditates before stepping on to the pitch.
“I have strict guidelines that I follow. I stay in a very quiet place to relax my mind and my pre-match is normally fruit juice to replenish my body” reveals Shakava.
Kagere credits a well-balanced diet, enough rest, taking five litres of water a day and retiring to bed by 8:30pm for his career longevity and top shape when he lines up to play.