By Kimathi Kamau
NAIROBI, Nov. 10 (Xinhua) — Kenyan league champions Gor Mahia FC returned home on Saturday morning determined to draw on the lessons from their landmark tour to the Britain in their chase for honors next season.
The record 17-time domestic league winners made history on Tuesday night when they became the first team from East Africa to play English Premier League sides in England where they surrendered a 4-0 defeat to Everton.
Speaking after arriving at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, club captain Harun Shakava maintained that the team returns home motivated despite the humbling defeat.
“The entire trip was fantastic. From the day we left, to the training facilities and the experience to play on such a pitch. We are truly grateful. Now that we’re back, we plan to correct the mistakes we made as we await the chance to defend our Premier League crown,” he said.
Gor departed Nairobi on Nov. 2 for their groundbreaking trip. Besides taking on Everton at the iconic Goodison Park, the team also got to enjoy the state-of-the-art facilities at the Blues’ USM Finch Farm training complex.
They were also given a guided tour of the ‘Everton in the Community’ project that has influenced the lives of many in the city of Liverpool, where the nine-time English Premier League winners are based.
The Gor contingent visited another English team they played in Nairobi in May, English Championship outfit Hull City FC, on Wednesday with some crossing over Stanley Park to tour Anfield, the home of Everton’s local rivals Liverpool FC.
“This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the players and technical bench. Despite the loss, we are better because of it,” assistant head coach Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno told SportPesa News at the airport moments after touchdown.
Gor got the opportunity to travel to the Britain after beating Tanzanian champions Simba SC 2-0 to retain their SportPesa Cup title in Nakuru on Jun. 10.
Head coach Dylan Kerr remained in his native Britain to spend time with his family and is expected to travel to Kenya on Nov. 20 to prepare for the next season.
A week later, the team will play in the first leg of their 2018/19 CAF Champions League preliminary round clash against Nyasa Big Bullets of Malawi before traveling for the return fixture between Dec. 4 and 5.
Gor will then start their journey to defend their Kenyan league crown on Dec. 8 in a tough fixture away to the team that finished second to them, Bandari FC.