Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia will make history by becoming the first African team to play at Goodison Park later today in a friendly game against Everton. This game was originally planned for the Sportpesa Cup in the summer, but was later postponed.
With Marco Silva finally having his full complement of players available to him over the last couple of weeks, the manager is likely to use this game to give some of that squad some competitive minutes ahead of Sunday’s Premier League fixture at Chelsea.
In goal Silva could opt to have Joao Virginia play after some solid performances for the Under-23s over the last few weeks. Maarten Stekelenburg remains Jordan Pickford’s deputy for now.
The Under-21s play in the Checkatrade Trophy today and the Under-23s have a Friday fixture, so it’s unlikely we’ll see too many from the youth squad make the jump up.
Yerry Mina is almost guaranteed to get the start in central defence with Kurt Zouma ineligible to play against his parent club this weekend. Will Silva have Michael Keane play the first half to get some chemistry going with the Colombian giant? Waiting in the wings will be Mason Holgate who has been ready and raring to go after featuring in the first two games of the season.
Phil Jagielka and Jonjoe Kenny missed out on the win against Brighton & Hove Albion over the weekend with minor injuries, and if they are not fit to play then Holgate might have to switch over to right back for this game. On the left we should see Leighton Baines, who has been kept out of the starting lineup by the excellent Lucas Digne.
James McCarthy is fit again after his horrific injury and should get the start marshaling the midfield as should Morgan Schneiderlin. Kieran Dowell has only had two chances to play and has been ineffective in both League Cup appearances, but should get the nod today.
Ademola Lookman is getting closer and closer to a start, and should play today, with Cenk Tosun and Dominic Calvert-Lewin rounding out the starting lineup.
Speaking yesterday about the Kenyan opponents, Silva said -
“We are playing a football game, and it is always a good chance to see not just our players but our opponents as well. It is a great moment to see new and opposition’s players in our stadium.
“I expect a very good match that will enable us see our different ways of playing. The players have to recover first and get ready for the fixture. But what we know about Gor Mahia, is that this is an important moment for them because they will be the first African club to play in England.
“However, we are ready for everything. What will be important to us is to give some minutes for different players, but some of the players who played today (Saturday) will definitely be not on the pitch in our next match. I want to be honest and fair with you, our most important game is coming up against Chelsea on Sunday.”
Seamus Coleman, who missed the 2-1 win against Gor in Tanzania last summer, added -
“We are all looking forward to the game on Tuesday. It is a great opportunity to the club and we are ready to welcome everyone at Goodison Park. We don’t know much about Gor Mahia, but I think the manager will do the homework about them. It will be a great match for everyone.
“I have played against a number of African players and I think it will be an opportunity for Gor Mahia players to show their skill and talent on the night, you never know who will be watching and the opportunity that will come out of this game.
“It is a game that we have to prepare for going into the next Premier League match, but the manager will have to use a strong squad of 26 players we have. We will not take it lightly.”