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Tusker boss Matano fires up charges to tackle Zamalek might

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 16 – Zamalek’s last visit to Nairobi two years ago ended in defeat when they were beaten 4-2 by Gor Mahia in the group stages of the CAF Confederations Cup.

Current Kenyan champions Tusker FC will look to pick up the script from their predecessors when they take on the reigning Egyptian champions and five-time African champions in the first leg of their CAF Champions League second preliminary round tie at the Nyayo Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Tusker come into the match hoping to pick a huge surprise against the White Knights who lost last season’s final to arch-rivals Al Ahly.

Head coach Robert Matano is beaming with confidence ahead of the mammoth tie at Nyayo and has underscored that his boys will be going for nothing short of victory at home.

“We are ready for them and we know that we are representing our country and so we must make our people proud. Zamalek is a good team but they are beatable. We are motivated as a team and the players are psyched up. Our intention is to win here,” coach Matano said.

The tactician adds; “Always, the ambition is to win at home. We have the support, we are used to the weather and the altitude and there is nothing hard. We just have to measure up to the standards and perform. We also want to qualify to the group stages of the competition and it is possible.”

“Our minds are psyched and we are ready physically and psychologically. They have a name and we also have a name. The action on the pitch will decide. We are ready and willing to win,” a confident Matano says.

His sentiments are shared by skipper Eugene Asike who notes that the players know only too well the task in their hands and they have prepared to ensure they go for victory against a difficult and quality opponent.

“It is a good challenge playing against a top team. We know they are a good side with quality and experienced players but on the pitch it is going to be 11 versus 11. We have our work cut out but we will give our all and we believe in ourselves. We will show great team spirit in the match,” he says.

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Asike adds; “We just need to focus on what we can do on the pitch. We have our own strengths and if we can show that on the pitch then I am confident we can get a good result.”

Tusker progressed to the second preliminary round after beating Djibouti’s Arta Solar 4-1 on aggregate while Zamalek are starting their campaign at this stage after being handed a bye from the first round.

The brewers started their domestic season with a post-match penalty victory over Gor Mahia in the Super Cup before losing their first match of the league 1-0 against AFC Leopards.

But, they have had a three-week break to work on the weaknesses and build on the strengths against a tough Egyptian opponent.

The last time Tusker played an Egyptian team at this stage of the competition was in 2013 when they lost 4-1 on aggregate to AL Ahly. They lost 2-1 at home and suffered a 2-0 defeat away from home.

Zamalek will be looking to continue their impressive performances, having clinched the Egyptian league ahead of rivals Ahly who beat them to the Champions League trophy.

Their French tactician Patrice Carteron is confident that his team has prepared better than the last time they were in Kenya against Gor, saying their early arrival has helped them acclimatize and get used to the altitude.

Tusker will have their confidence boosted with the return to fitness of defender Charles Momanyi, striker Ibrahim Joshua and midfielder Clyde Senaji who were all injured.

Zamalek’s prowess will be drawn from their inspirational skipper Shikabala who is expected to lead the line in attack. Also to be watched out for in the Zamalek side is winger Achraf Bencharki. The Moroccan international was sensational for the White Knights in their Champions League campaign last term.



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