Making their debut in continental football, Kenya’s Kariobangi Sharks can mastermind an early shock in the CAF Confederations Cup if they can beat Ghana’s Asante Kotoko at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi on Saturday afternoon.
The two sides played to a 0-0 draw in the first leg of the first round last weekend in Nairobi and a win or a scoring draw will see Kenya’s Sharks progress to the play-off round where they will stand a chance of getting into the group stages in their debut season.
Sharks head coach William Muluya knows this will be tough waters to glide in but the youthful tactician is not just about to be cowed by the stature of his opponents and believes at their best, Sharks can bite off Kotoko and progress to the next round.
“Of course we believe we have that ability. It is not easy against Kotoko especially down there in Ghana, but we have the belief and I believe we have a strong squad that can do that. Though none in this team is experienced at this level, we have been together for long to fight as a team,” the tactician noted.
Sharks beat Djibouti’s Arta Solar 9-1 on aggregate to progress off the preliminary round and in the first round against Kotoko in Nairobi, they drew 0-0 in a game that they should have buried at least one or two goals.
Muluya rues those missed chances, but doesn’t take much from his side saying it is not all lost after failing to score at home.
“I will look at it positively, saying that if we score away from home, it is an advantage for us. We have the ability to score and we have worked on our finishing. Any kind of a scoring draw will pull us through and that is a motivation for us,” the tactician further offered.
Their most experienced player in the rather youthful team is midfielder Patillah Omotto who has played severally for the national team and apart from Sharks has featured for AFC Leopards and Bandari in the Kenyan Premier League.
Omotto has called for calm from his teammates, noting they have worked so hard to be where they are and they now only need to do their best on the pitch and hope that lady luck smiles their way.
“For most of the players, this is the first time playing at this stage. But what carries us ahead is the belief that we can make history. We know we are facing a very tough and experienced team and playing away, they will be more motivated to win. But we are ready to battle and we will give them a tough outing because we also want to progress,” Omotto commented.
Sharks welcome back defensive midfielder Sven Yidah who has returned to first team football after recovering from a knee injury that kept him out for close to three months.
The midfielder played his first 90 minutes of football on Tuesday when the team won 2-0 against Sony Sugar in a Kenyan Premier League match, a game that Muluya used most of his first team players sparingly, saving them for the Kotoko showdown.