Gor Mahia FC, the SportPesa Premier League (SPL) champions have warned rivals to brace for a tough battle in the third edition of SportPesa Cup slated for January 22 to 27, 2019 in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.
The 17-time SPL winners will be out to defend the international tournament for the third time in a row, after bagging the 2017 and 2018 editions.
“We are actually alive to the fact that other clubs are determined to take the crown from us this time round but we want to assure them that it will be no mean task. To them I say, let us meet again in Tanzania,” Gor Mahia chairman, Ambrose Rachier, underlined.
Kenya’s Bandari FC and Tanzania’s Mbao FC are the new inclusion in the annual challenge whose winner get the chance to play English Premier League (EPL) side, Everton FC.
Bandari earned their cut into the knockout championships after they finished second in the 2018 SPL season with 62 points behind Gor who won the league with 75.
“We appreciate this opportunity which is very good for our team where 80 per cent of the players are young with an average age of 23.It will be a good exposure for them for they are the ones who put in all the effort to get us to number on the log this year,” Bandari CEO, Edward Oduor, underlined.
Apart from the Mombasa based outfit and Gor, other Kenyan sides in the competition are Kariobangi Sharks FC and AFC Leopards SC who were finalists last year.
Likewise, Tanzania will provide four teams including Tanzania Premier League winners, Simba SC and their perennial rivals, Yanga SC. Others are Singida United FC and Mbao FC.
The tournament winner will host Everton who are nine time EPL title-holders in a SportPesa Trophy challenge in their country; it will be the second time that the Toffees would be visiting East Africa.
SportPesa Chief Marketing Officer, Kelvin Twissa, who welcomed Bandari and Mbao into the contest,emphasized: “This competition is geared at exposing the local talent to give our players a chance to be scouted as well as play with the best in the region to improve their careers and skills.”
The first edition of the championships was held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in June 2017 while the second was in Nakuru, Kenya in June 2018.
Gor earned the bragging rights to play Everton twice , in Dar on July 13, 2017 which ended 2-1 to the visitor’s favour and away at Goodison Park in Liverpool, England on November 6, 2018 which the hosts triumphed 4-0.
Tanzania Football Federation Secretary General, Wilfred Kidao, pledged that the federation would work with global gaming firm, SportPesa, to improve the game in Tanzania.