Everton arrive in Dar ready for Gor battle

By alex wafula
Jul 13, 2017
  • Everton players train at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam ahead of the match against Gor Mahia. (Photo by Alex Wafula)

  • Everton FC midfielders Idrissa Gueye and Yannick Bolasie greet kids at Uhuru Primary as Olamola Lookman looks on. (Photo by Alex Wafula)

English Premier League club Everton arrived in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on Wednesday morning, hours to their first ever pre-season friendly match on African soil.

The Merseyside club who will face Kenyan giants Gor Mahia on Thursday were treated to a massive welcome by fans mobbing the airport, most just to catch a glimpse of the EPL stars, biggest on their minds being new signing Wayne Rooney.

Everton proceeded straight to their hotel in suburban Dar es Salaam where they were treated to a welcoming dance by Maasai warriors much to the delight of the players, led by coach Ronald Koeman.

“It is such a huge thing for us because we are not used to such at home. It shows so much respect for us and we are thankful,” left back Leighton Baines said just after the team settled down at their residence.

Everton are just one week into their pre-season training and the match against Gor Mahia match on Thursday will be a perfect table for Koeman to lay out his new boys, having brought in three of them and a few from the academy.

Michael Keane, Davy Klaasen and Rooney are the new boys in the team.

Baines says the match will help them get to know the new boys well, even as they hope to kick-start their preparations for the 2017.

“We have a few new faces in the team and we haven’t quite had time to get to know each other and so this should be a perfect opportunity. We just want to get started in the best way possible and though we don’t know much about our opponents, we hope to get a very good match,” Baines added.

The team had a late training session at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam, 24 hours to the match.

Aborted media briefing

A pre-match press conference planned for Koeman and captain Phil Jagielka could not materialize as the planners faced a huge turnout of journalists from Tanzania, raising an issue with the Everton media office.

The team had a 15-minute open session at the Dar Stadium, before the venue was sealed out for them to complete their workout.

Prior, the team had a few sessions, some enjoying a football clinic with the Albino team at the Uhuru Stadium while others mingled and played with students from Uhuru Primary School in Kariakor.

Senegalese international Idrissa Gana Gueye, his Congolese counterpart Yannick Bolasie, youngster Olamola Lookman and Baines were at the Uhuru Primary where they also got a chance to play deaf roll-ball with the school team.

“It is such a big honor for me to come back to the continent and get such a welcome. It gives me motivation to go back and work harder because I now know that I am an ambassador of Africa to the world,” Bolassie said just as he shared moments with the Uhuru Primary kids, most of who are visually impaired.

Everton will face Gor Mahia on Thursday, with the National Stadium turf having been re-manicured to meet international standards.

Irish contractors were called on board to ensure the playing surface meets European standards.

Meanwhile, excitement is already gripping Tanzania ahead of the match with the single name on fans’ mouths being Wayne Rooney.

Most say they will purchase a ticket just to catch a glimpse of the former England captain. However, it is still not clear whether Rooney will be handed a starting berth or a chance on the bench.

He completed his return to the club after 17 years early this week.