The clubs have avoided their North African rivals – the teams who are viewed as the toughest rivals for them in the early stage of the season East African Premier League champions have learned their Caf Champions League preliminary round opponents after a draw that was conducted on Monday in Egypt.
Gor Mahia will have to fight and win against Rwandan champions APR if they are to progress to the next stage, first at home, before going to Kigali for the second round. Just like APR, Gor Mahia have been conducting training sessions for the past month in readiness for the competition even though they have not been in competitive action since March when the leagues were cancelled by their respective federations.
The winner between Gor Mahia and APR will face either Algeria’s CR Belouizdad or Al Nasr of Libya in the second round. Vipers will be welcomed back in the continental competition by Sudan’s El Hilal and the winner between them will face either Nouadhibou of Mauritania or Ghana’s Asante Kotoko in the next round. The Venoms will welcome the Sudanese side at St Mary’s Stadium before the return leg away.
Tanzania’s Simba have landed Nigerian opponents Plateau United and will host them before travelling west for the second tie. Gor Mahia will be participating for the fourth straight time after winning Premier League titles in their last four seasons.
The Kenyan champions will also be under a new coach given they made a change and brought Brazilian Oliveira ‘Robertinho’ Goncalves; a former Ray- on Sports tactician. Steven Polack exited in a similar manner that Dylan Kerr and Hassan Okay did and forced K’Ogalo to look for a new coach that will spearhead their ambition of making it into the group stage.
They have signed 14 players but a few are expected to play key roles when Gor Mahia start their Champions League campaign. Simba qualified for the third straight campaign after winning the 2019/20 title with seven matches to spare. Although they looked a strong team, the Wekundu wa Msimbazi went ahead and signed key players like Larry Bwalya, Bernard Morrison, Chris Mugalu and Joash Onyango who will be tasked with pushing Simba further in the continental competition.
They have lost two matches in the league already and the Tanzanian champions will have to fight and see whether they can advance far, than what they afforded last season. Simba were eliminated in the preliminary stage by Mozambican champions UD Songo at their own turf when they went down 1-0 in August 2019.
For Uganda, there will be a different Champions League representative after Vipers were declared winners of the cancelled 2019/20 competition.
The Venoms were leading with four more points than KCCA FC – the last editions country’s representatives – and thus the duty of flying Uganda’s flag lies squarely on their shoulders. Just like Gor Mahia, Vipers have not been in action since the league was suspended in March due to the emergence of the coronavirus.
Head coach Fred Kajoba has already made signings – predominantly from local clubs – who he hopes will help the club as they return to the continental football.