Mathare United off to Zambia

Published on 30/01/2009

By James Waindi

Kenya Premier League Champions Mathare United left the country on Friday morning to kick off their Sh79m ($1m) continental campaign against Zambia champions Zesco United.

The team of 20 players and six officials left without international Simeon Mulama, who was dropped from the squad on Thursday. The left-footed midfielder recently rejoined Mathare United from Sweden Second Division Club Vasteras SK and coach Francis Kimanzi noted that he would need him at later stages.

All the six regular national team players (Duncan Ochieng’, Kevin Ochieng’, Edgar Ochieng’, Austin Makacha, Anthony Kimani and Lloyd Wahome) who represented Harambee Stars at the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup early this month, were part of the squad. Former KCB striker Paul Ambembo and international Andrew Oyombe, who joined the champions this month, also made the team.

Mathare are returning to continental football after seven years and want to make an impact after failing to go past the first leg in 2002 when they lost their home and away matches 2-0 to Egypt’s Al Masri in a Caf Cup competition.

The annual competition that brings together top clubs from each country has a lucrative prize tag of Sh79m for the eventual winner while the runners-up earn Sh38m (500,000 dollars).

“We have trained well. Players morale is high and we have no injuries. What is remaining know is to do what we know best in the field and win.

Ready for challenge

“We are going for nothing less than a win. A strong start will be vital to us and we would like to finish the business tomorrow (on Saturday) and make the return leg in Nairobi a formality,” assistant coach Salim Ali said.

Coach Francis Kimanzi said he expected a physical match from the Zambian Champions but said his team was prepared for all challenges.

“I don’t know much about Zesco United, but I saw them when I attended a seminar in Lusaka in November last year. I know they are very physical. They also have six national team players, but that does not really bother us,” said Kimanzi.

Sony FC chairman Gabriel Otiende accompanied the team as the head of delegation.

Team: Duncan Ochieng, Dennis Nzomo, Kevin Omogi, Kennedy Omogi, Joseph Ndumba, Vincent Otieno, Chrispin Ochieng, Paul Ambembo, Paul Oloo, Austin Makacha, Anthony Kimani, Martin Kokane, Llyod Wahome, Fred Ochieng, Kevin Opiyo, Andrew Opiyo, Edgar Ochieng, Kevin Opondo and Collins Malenya and Andrew Oyombe. Officials: Francis Kimanzi (Coach), Salim Ali (Asst Coach), Enos Karani (Physio), Jack Oguda (Team manager), Bob Munro (Chairman) and Gabriel Otiende (Head of delegation).

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