Have they come of age? 30 long years and waiting…

By: CELLESTINE OLILO

Kenyan champions Gor Mahia will carry the hopes of a football-glory starved nation when they take on home side Azam in the final of the Cecafa Club Championships on Sunday from 3.45pm at the National Stadium, Dar es Salaam.

K’Ogalo will be going for their first Cecafa title since 1985 when they downed bitter rivals AFC Leopards 2-0 in Sudan.

Both Gor and Azam have yet to taste defeat in their respective five matches, are deserved finalists and have played some of the best football in the tournament, making for an alluring final.

(READ: Gor Mahia face Azam in Cefafa Club Championship final)

At stake is, of course the regional title, and the accompanying Sh3 million prize money for the winner.

Azam have powered to the final on a solid defence and fluent attack.

The Tanzanian side blasted through their group assignments without conceding a single goal.

Up front, they have shown venom. Strikers Ivorian Kipre Cheche and Shomari Kapombe will once again be heavily depended upon to deliver the goals and power their team to their first ever Kagame Cup.

STRUGGLING WITH FITNESS

Azam coach Stewart Hall said his side was struggling with fitness in his team but remained confident he had the right quality of players to deal with the Kenyan team.

“Prior to this tournament we had only two weeks of training, and the players are not so fit. Gor Mahia players are better physically. They are big and strong and they are smack in the middle of their league.

“I know we shall struggle maintaining optimum energy levels, but if we defend as well as we have been defending during the tournament I know we shall be able to overcome them,” he said.

K’Ogalo are seasoned campaigners and will not fall for any talk about the opposition being unfit.

Gor coach Frank Nuttall declared that they would be coming out all guns blazing.

“We are prepared for anything. Tomorrow (Sunday) is a very important day for the entire club and also for its history. Winning the trophy is the only thing that remains and I trust that the boys will put their best foot forward.

“The pressure of winning the trophy is a lot, and I don’t want the boys to feel like they have to win it, because even if they lose tomorrow (Sunday), we have already given a good account of ourselves so far,” he said. Striker Michael Olunga, with five toals to his name, is on course for the Golden Boot award. He will be assisted in his goal hunt by Rwandan Meddia Kagere.

Gor assistant coach John “Bobby” Ogola will have given them some inspiring talk. Ogola, who was part of the Gor team that won the title 30 years ago said it will be a very emotional game for him, and that he will feel a deep sense of accomplishment if he wins the title as a tactician.

“I think I am the happiest person in the team right now. I can’t wait for that match because, already, I am having dizzying memories of 1985. I haven’t planned on how I shall celebrate but I know that it will be the best day of my life,” he told Sunday Nation Sport on Saturday.

FIXTURES

1.30pm KCCA vs Al Khartoum

3.45pm Azam vs Gor Mahia