NAIROBI, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) –– Kenya’s Premier League (KPL) champion Tusker FC is confident of victory when they face hosts Arta Solar 7 Club in their preliminary round first leg of the CAF Champions League in Djibouti on Saturday.
Tusker is returning to continental football for the first time since 2012, having deposed Gor Mahia as league champions at the end of the just-concluded domestic season.
After the first leg, the return fixture will take place a week later on Sept. 18 in Nairobi. The winner on aggregate will advance to another knockout with the now 12-time Kenyan league champions targeting progression to the group stages of the Champions League.
If Tusker proceeds to the first round, they will face off with Egypt’s champions and Cairo giants Zamalek FC in mid-October.
Speaking during the team’s departure from Nairobi on Wednesday, Tusker head coach Robert Matano expressed confidence his charges will progress to the next phase.
“We have been training in Mombasa in the past one week and we have been able to build synergy between the new players we have brought in and those who were there before. We won the Premier League and that is now behind us, we look forward to the upcoming challenge,” said Matano who has now won two KPL titles with Tusker having led them to the 2012 crown.
Tusker has been active in the current transfer window recruiting Charles Momanyi, keeper Patrick Matasi, Kalos Protus Kirenge, Ibrahim Joshua and Teddy Osok.
Club sponsors Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL) managing director John Musunga assured the team of the company’s full support during the competition, as he also hopes for positive results.
“This team has done us proud this year, winning the league and qualifying for the CAF Champions League. This is the dream of any football player in Kenya and I, therefore, congratulate them for their success. As a company, we have and will continue to support the team throughout their continental campaign as we always have,” he added.
As motivation, the team received a bonus of two million shillings (18,200 U.S. dollars) from their sponsors for winning the title and ending Gor’s stranglehold on the KPL trophy.