Football: Caf Champions League preliminaries-St Michel face formidable away task


Can St Michel celebrate a win in Nairobi?

Trailing 1-4, the Seychelles champions are facing the formidable task of becoming the first local club to overturn a deficit away from home to reach the Champions League first round.
Saturday’s return match will be played at the Moi International Sports Center, Kasarani (MISC Kasarani) in Nairobi.

After Gervais Waye-Hive had given St Michel a 27th minute lead, Tusker FC got a brace from now dependable central kingpin David Cheche Ochieng (30th and 85th minutes), a goal from the 2012 Kenya secondary schools Most Valuable Player Michael Olunga in the 71st minute and another one from Uganda import Andrew Sekayombya in the 83rd minute.

St Michel have warmed up for the return match with a 2-0 win over defending Land Marine Cup champions Anse Reunion in the curtain-raiser President’s Cup – their fourth consecutive win and 11th in total.

Speaking to Sports Nation, St Michel manager Andrew Jean-Louis said the team’s entourage know they have a difficult task to try to overcome the score, but this will not stop them from going into the match with all guns blazing.

“It won’t be easy and everyone knows that. The odds are against us – the score and the high altitude in Nairobi – but we will not give in easily.
“The tie is still open and our aim is not to lose in Nairobi. We will be all out for a win and if not a draw,” said Jean-Louis, who also had words of good luck for Anse Reunion against Gor Mahia.
“I wish them luck and hopefully they progress to the first round,” said the St Michel manager.

The St Michel delegation will be headed by Seychelles Football Federation executive committee member George Bibi. All attempts to have the names of the other members were unfruitful.
On the other hand, Tusker FC coach Robert Matano, whose team have one leg in the first round of the Caf Champions League, has warned his players against complacency insisting that he will deploy an attacking strategy in the fixture despite carrying a 4-1 cushion from the first leg played in Seychelles.

“We are taking this match more seriously than the first leg because our opponents have had time to prepare and will be coming at us with guns blazing. We are going all out on the attack.”
He has also downplayed his team’s 4-5 penalty defeat to Gor Mahia at the weekend during their DSTv/SuperSport tournament pointing out the fact that they did not concede a goal in normal time was impressive.

“When a match goes to penalties, anyone can win it. I am happy with my boys for putting up a great performance in normal time and that we never conceded,” added coach Matano.
St Michel leave this afternoon onboard Kenya Airways, a few hours after Gor Mahia players would have set foot on Seychelles’ soil for their return leg match against Anse Reunion in the Caf Confederations Cup preliminaries.

Anse Reunion will carry a goalless draw into Saturday’s return leg encounter at Stad Linite and need a win to progress to the first round.

If Saturday’s game ends on a goalless draw, the winners will be decided on a penalty shootout. A scoring draw will mean Anse Reunion will be eliminated on the away goals rule.

Immediately after the draw against Anse Reunion, Gor Mahia’s Croat coach Zradvko Logarusic told the Kenyan media that his team “face a tall order and have to work harder to edge out Anse Reunion”.
But he changed his tone this week after his team’s 5-4 DSTV Super Cup success against Tusker FC on post-match penalties last Saturday.

Logarusic said he is confident they will win the second-leg match. “We are getting back our old form and by the time we travel to Seychelles, we should be ready for the match. I am, however, confident that we will win the match and make the second round of the tournament,” he said.

Fourteen-time Kenyan league champions Gor Mahia will be without premiership midfielder of the year Teddy Akumu who was sent off late in the second half of the first leg contest at Nyayo Stadium for committing a professional foul when he pulled down a goal-bound opponent.

Logarusic has said they will have able replacement for the player who received a standing ovation from Gor Mahia fans despite being sent off, clearly aware of how much he had saved the club from conceding a goal.

Team captain Jerim Onyango has assured the club's faithful that all is not lost for them.
"We played in the first leg match very well but were just unlucky. We had at least 10 chances at goal which we failed to take advantage of. Our opponents may have an advantage going into the return match but we are confident this is a side that we can easily beat when we meet again. Our fans should not give up on account of that result. They should continue believing in us and our ability to make it to the second round," Onyango told the Kenyan press.

G. G.

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