Revamped Tusker FC eye Champions League group stages

Revamped Tusker FC eye Champions League group stages

Kenyan Premier League (KPL) titleholders Tusker FC are out to follow up their domestic double success by making the group stages of the 2017 CAF Champions League on their return to the top continental competition since 2013.

The Brewers will compete on five fronts this season and have bolstered their squad ahead of a campaign they will feature in the CAF Champions League, regional CECAFA Club Championships besides seeking the domestic treble in defending their KPL and GOtv Shield titles in addition to the KPL Top 8 tournament.

Speaking at a ceremony where the cub paraded their new signings and unveiled their 2017 squad, Head Coach Ugandan George ‘Best’ Nsimbe told of his delight with the latest additions and their pre-season training thus far.

He will be aiming to emulate and better compatriot Paul Nkata who quit the 10-time league champions shortly after leading them to the double to take over at domestic rivals Bandari FC.

“I’m happy with what I have seen so far, during our preparations for the new season. The new players are fitting in well.”

Nsibe added the upcoming season will be a real challenge but backed his side to compete on all fronts as the club prepares to feature in two yet to be confirmed friendlies ahead of the Champions League opening fixture.

“It will be a tough season, but I believe this side has what it takes to make it to the group stages of the Champions League and defend the two titles they won last year locally,” the Tusker boss said at their Ruaraka base in Nairobi on Wednesday.

Tusker have acquired nine new players during the transfer window that slammed shut midnight with the team confirming they would no longer train at the Ruaraka Grounds but will instead move to Meru.

Goalkeeper Byrne Omondi who was out on loan at Agro Chemicals, defenders Marlon Tangauzi (Uganda Saints FC) Vincent Omumbo (Thika United)and Samuel Olwande (Chemelil Sugar) are among the new blood injected into the Brewer’s veins.

Midfielders Sydney Ochieng (Palos FC), Moses Ndawula (Lweza FC – Uganda), Abdul Hillary (African Lyon – TZ), Evans Ochieng (Umeme FC) and Victor Ndinya (Bandari) have also joined the club.

-Osumba returns-

Tusker also announced the return of midfielder Brian Osumba to the playing roster after being sidelined by injury for the whole of last season.

Nsibe will head the technical bench assisted by Francis Baraza who led Chemelil to a credible fifth finish in the KPL last term with Kagai Azande joining Tusker as goal keeper coach from Mathare United.

Nsibe, 50, joined the league champions from Vipers SC of Uganda, bringing on board vast experience in continental football having led both Azam FC (Tanzania) and Kampala City County Authority (KCCA) to the Champions League’s group stage.

Tusker has released Martin Musalia and Osborne Monday to Posta Rangers and Kariobangi Sharks.

Louis Misiko who was on loan from Georgian side, Club FC Kolkheti, returns to his parent team whilst Ugandan Robert Omonuk, John Mabia and Brian Luttaare are set to depart on loan deals

Tusker will kick off the 2017 campaign against Madagascan giants AS Port Louis 2000 on February 11 in the preliminary round of the Champions League.

The Brewers return to the elite continental competition after reclaiming the local crown from Gor Mahia last year hoping for a better outing than 2013 when they blanked the hapless St Michel United of Seychelles 7-1 on aggregate in the preliminary round before being crushed by Egyptian titans and record winners Al Ahly 4-1 after two legs in the first round.

-Report by Elizabeth Mbugua