Tusker FC and Ulinzi Stars, Kenya’s representatives in the CAF Champions League and Confederations Cup will be out to salvage slots in the first round of their respective competitions when they play preliminary round second leg matches this weekend.
Tusker are away in Mauritius to AS Port Louis while Ulinzi will be at home to Libyan side Al Hilal Benghazi.
Tusker, the reigning Kenyan Premier League champions drew 1-1 in the first leg in Nairobi last weekend. They must win in Port Louis or at pick a draw of more than a goal to progress to the first round.
Coach George Nsimbe remains confident his charges have learnt from the first leg mistakes.
“We have trained better and I think the level of cohesion in the team has risen. We hurt in the first leg because we didn’t have much of match fitness but now we already know what we have to do. The most important thing will be to get the goals. We have worked on our finishing and I know we will do better,” Nsimbe said.
He has made changes to the squad that travelled with Brian Osumba and new signing Sidney Ochieng included in the final squad. Danson Kago who picked up an injury in the first leg has not recovered.
Nsimbe believes the two new players will bring in some much needed flow in the team’s midfield which appeared disjointed in the first leg. Osumba has not played a competitive match since 2015 having spent the whole of last season out with a broken foot.
The hosts, Port Louis have promised to ensure they seal the tie at home. They aim at progressing out of the preliminary round for the first time since 2003.
Back at home, Ulinzi Stars who trail 1-0 to Al Hilal from the first leg played in Cairo last Friday are confident.
Ulinzi need a win by more than two goals to progress to the first round. Coach Benjamin Nyangweso has been pleased with the availability of striker John Mark Makwatta.
The 2016 Kenyan Premier league top scorer could not play the first leg. He was unavailable because his passport was at the UK Embassy as he is due to travel with the Hull City team at the end of the month.
Makwatta’s prowess infront of goal could come in handy for the military side.
“We need to get in early goals to ensure we settle in the match. If we go to half time still equal it will bring a lot of pressure on us because they (Al Hilal) is a team which is good at time wasting. They frustrated us so much in the first leg after they scored,” Nyangweso said.
He added; “They are a beatable team and we need to take our chances very well.” His sentiments were echoed by captain James Saruni.
“We have a chance to make something out of this match and looking at the players, I am confident that we will skip this first hurdle and move to the next round. Our target still remains to make it to the group stages,” the shot stopper offered.