The knockout stage of the ongoing SportPesa Super Cup concluded on Tuesday and the stage is set for semi-final matches scheduled to be played at the Afraha Stadium in Nakuru on Thursday, June 7.
The Super Cup holders Gor Mahia FC, advanced to the semis in supreme fashion after a convincing 3-0 victory over Zanzibar champions Jeshi la Kujenga Uchumi (JKU) on Sunday. Goals from George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo and Godfrey Walusimbi in the first half were followed by a well taken headed goal by substitute Meddie Kagere to set a semi-final date with Singida United FC.
“My apologies for the coach and captain not being able to come, the team is training so they couldn’t be available,” Gor Mahia assistant coach Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno said.
“It’s going to be a tough game tomorrow, I watched Singida play yesterday but we are up for the challenge. Gor Mahia is ready to defend the title we won last year in Tanzania and making it to the final is the first step,” he continued.
Gor won the inaugural edition of the tournament last year in Tanzania, beating eternal rivals AFC Leopards SC 3-0 in the final, granting them to proceed to play against English Premier League side Everton FC at the Uhuru Stadium in Dar Es Salaam.
“You can’t win if you don’t score goals so that is the main target as we go into the semis on Thursday.
“Defensively they are a good team but our attack is our most lethal department and so it will be an entertaining match as we aim to continuously launch attacks throughout the game,” Zico added.
The record SportPesa Premier League (SPL) winners rested key players for the quarterfinal clash with JKU, with names such as top striker Jacques Tuyisenge, number one custodian Boniface Oluoch, Humphrey Mieno and Ernest Wendo all featuring as unused subs for the tie.
“We have been rotating players and we rested six regulars for the first match and I am sure their inclusion into the starting line-up will provide that injection that we desperately need to progress in this tournament,” he added.
“There are no injury concerns, only Jacques (Tuyisenge) had a knock but he is fully fit to play on Thursday.
“We have played 26 competitive matches since February so we are arguably the most fit team in this tournament and we are ready to prove it tomorrow when we take to the pitch,” Zico concluded.
Their opponents Singida, were the last team to book a semi-final berth after beating Leopards 4-2 on post-match penalties after neither side failed to score in regulation time.
“Our goalkeeper was in top form yesterday and the entire club is grateful for his efforts to keep us in the game and for the win as well. Every match has a different approach and we go into the semi-final with a whole different mindset keen on knocking out the defending champions,” Singida coach Suleiman Hemed said.
“There are plenty of mistakes that need correcting from yesterday’s game and that’s what we are working on today to avoid a repeat in the semis. All glory goes to God for helping us get this far and for the result yesterday, we focus on the next test tomorrow,” Hemed added.
Singida skipper Elisha Muroiwa had an exceptional game in the heart of defense against Leopards, keeping them at bay throughout the encounter and echoed what was said by his coach as they gear up for the mega clash.
The first semi-final on the cards on Thursday will see SPL side Kakamega Homeboyz FC battle it out against Vodacom Premier League champions Simba SC at 1PM tomorrow (Thursday).
Homeboyz got off to a flying start with a 3-1 dismissal of Yanga SC in the first game of the 2018 edition of the Super Cup on Sunday. Seasoned forward Allan Wanga scored a brace for the Western-based side and substitute Wycliffe Opondo added a late third to put the Paul Nkata-led side through to the last four.
“We are going to play against Simba without pressure tomorrow. We know what we are capable of and it’s just a matter of keeping our cool in tomorrow’s match.
“We came into the tournament as underdogs and we are still underdogs. When you go to the league, you can see the standings and we are going to face the champions, so composure is key,” Ugandan tactician Nkata underlined.
“Simba have almost the same style of play as Yanga and we will just stick to our strategy that we used in the first game and that should be good enough to produce a win and a place in the finals,” he added.
Wanga, who won the SportPesa Premier League with former club Tusker FC in 2016, limped off the pitch in the quarter-final win causing some panic over his ability to feature in the competition but coach Nkata has put to bed those uncertainties on Wednesday morning.
“Our doctor is working on him well and I am certain that he is going to play despite the slight knock that he suffered in the first match,” he stated.
They face a Simba side who also went through via post-match penalties, beating Kariobangi Sharks FC 3-2 on Monday at the Afraha Stadium.
The Tanzanian champions seemed to be struggling to create chances throughout the game but kept their cool when it mattered most to keep alive their dream of winning their maiden Super Cup title.
“Firstly we thank God for our good health and taking care of us since we got to Kenya.
“I can’t promise much but to do my very best to prepare my players for the game tomorrow,” assistant coach Masoud Djuma began.
“Every team is worthy enough to be in this tournament and we can’t underestimate anyone. Our preparations for the game are just as they have been for every game prior to this. There’s only much we can do and the rest we leave to God.
“A match is 90 minutes and that’s the only time that counts, we have to improve and make the most of every chance we get if we are to make it to the finals,” he concluded.
Both semi-final matches will be played at the Afraha Stadium on Thursday from 1PM with the Gor Mahia match set to kick-off at 3:15PM.
The final of the tournament will be played on Sunday at the same venue with the winner getting the once in a lifetime opportunity to travel to England to play a match against Everton FC at Goodison Park.