Football Kenya Federation Premier League champions Tusker FC are confident they will pick a positive result when they take on five time African champions Zamalek in the second preliminary round of the TotalEnergies CAF Champions League in Nairobi on Saturday.
The Brewers host the White Knights in the first leg of the second round with coach Robert Matano saying they will be going for a win to ensure they have the game within their hands heading to the return fixture in Alexandria next weekend.
“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.
Captain Eugene Asike, named Kenya’s best defender at the end of last season says the team is motivated to take on one of the continent’s best teams, with Zamalek having reached the final of last season’s Champions League as well as winning the Egyptian Premier League.
“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.
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 7 4-1 on aggregate while Zamalek are starting their campaign at this stage after being handed a bye from the first round.
The last time Tusker played continental football, they failed to get off the first round, in 2017. In 2013 though when they did, they faced an Egyptian opponent in the second preliminary round, Al Ahly, losing 4-1 on aggregate.
But coach Matano does not rely on history and is ready to write a new chapter in the Kenyan club’s continental journey.
“For me history does not matter. If we rely on history we will not even be able to come to the pitch to play. This is a new game with new challenges and we are prepared to do the best for ourselves, the club and the country,” the coach noted.