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Gor, Leopards opponents in race against time

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Despite worries about a looming cash crunch occasioned by the departure of their shirt sponsor, Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards are having much better preparations than their opponents in the Caf Champions League and Confederation Cup respectively.

Equatorial Guinea champions Leones Vegetarianos, who are Gor’s opponents in the Champions League, have been inactive since October 2017 when they lost 1-0 to Deportivo Niefang in the Super-Copa Nacional – which involves the national league winner and the domestic cup holders.

Nation Sport understands the squad is yet to assemble for any preparation since then.

Further complicating the team’s preparations is the fact that Leones Vegetarianos, which was founded by a Spanish vegetarian man, has four of their key players in the national team that is currently in Morocco for the African Nations Championship.

The four are defenders Miguel Ngomo and Ela Abaga, midfielder Joaquin Obama and goalkeeper Beka Elibiyo who were instrumental in helping the Vegeterians win the Equatoguinean Premier League last year.

The team is also still reeling from the sacking of long serving coach Casto Nopo last May, which paved way for new coach Felipe Esono shortly before the conclusion of the season.

“This is the first time we have qualified for this tournament and we are obviously excited, but we also want to go easy and learn as we go so there is nothing to worry about. We are missing a number of players but I am sure that we shall be ready come February,” club president Bienvenido Ateba is quoted as saying by two weeks ago.

Fosa Juniors from Madagascar, who will be playing Leopards in the Caf Confederations Cup, are also yet to embark on any preparations ahead of the continental competition.

All this while Ingwe and Gor are currently in preseason training outside Nairobi in a bid to ensure they do better in their respective campaigns.

K’Ogalo are in Narok for a fortnight-long training session while Ingwe are just winding up with their week-long preseason training that was held in Kiambu County under the tutelage of coach Robert Matano.

On top of that, Leopards have lined up a series of high profile friendly matches involving Ugandan giants Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) in Machakos on January 24 as well as against Sudanese side Al Hilal on February 4 at the same venue.

“This year we want to record improved performance in that competition, and that is why we have done things differently,” said Gor’s Chief Executive Officer Lordvick Aduda.

“We started our preseason earlier than usual so that the players can be fit by the time we play our first game. We also started making recruitments early and we are already finalising on that.”