Bandari to cut short celebrations focus on local, upcoming continental ties
Charles Thuku and James Magayi
Bandari head coach Bernard Mwalala yesterday said football dynamics in Africa have changed, adding that North African teams, which used to hold sway in the past, are now beatable.
“East African teams and especially those from Kenya need to believe in themselves against fancied opposition. There is nothing impossible on the football pitch,” said Mwalala upon Bandari’s return home from Tunisia where they progressed to the CAF Confederation play-offs despite losing 2-1 to Tunisia’s US Ben Guerdane.
Bandari had won the first leg 2-0 at Moi International Sports Centre (MISC) Kasarani on September 14 thus securing a 3-2 aggregate win over the Tunisians.
Mwalala said the match at the sweltering heat in Tunisia was one of their toughest, adding that what helped them was a game plan especially after they had endured a torrid first 30 minutes from the marauding hosts.
“After the half-hour mark in which the hosts were a threat from open play and set pieces, we had a formation change and caught them on the counter and netted the vital goal that made all the difference,” said Mwalala at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport’s arrival lounge
He praised his charges for maintaining their intensity after Wadri (William) found the back of the net of the Tunisians.
“There was a sense of tactical cohesion and flexibility once my players found their footing. We may have come short of winning the match but remember, this was a match against a Maghreb side that was intent on beating us convincingly to wipe out the first leg deficit. I’m glad that we stood our ground and eventually eliminated them,” said Mwalala.
“We now have just to wait and see which teams we are going to face in the next stage of the competition and plan against them but at the moment we want to go home and celebrate this historic win,” he added.
Meanwhile, Nzoia Sugar host defending champions Gor Mahia in a rescheduled Kenyan Premier League clash at Mumias Complex this afternoon.
The sugar millers cannot be underrated as they are remembered for being responsible for Gor Mahia’s last league loss on a similar Wednesday afternoon, but on May 16.
Hansel Ochieng now plying his trade for AFC Leopards scored for Nzoia Sugar in the 34th minute and the millers fended any attempts by K’Ogalo to get back in the game.
Fast-forward 150 days and the two teams are meeting again at the same venue, with Gor reeling following their humiliating elimination from the CAF Champions League last Sunday.