As skipper of Gor Mahia, the first African club to play a Premier League team on English soil, Haron Shakava’s role is to keep his players grounded under the bright lights. 

The Kenyan Premier League champions have earned the chance of a lifetime when they take on Everton in the SportPesa trophy final at Goodison Park on Tuesday night. 

Shakava, 26, has seen plenty of players come and go since joining the club straight from high school six years ago; leading the side to four league titles in that time. 

The central defender was part of the Kenya Premier League SportPesa All Stars side that played Hull City in 2017, but knows Tuesday’s game will be extra special. 

“The players feel great about this opportunity and it’s a wonderful chance for us,” said Shakava.

“Compared to Kenya, the stadiums and the facilities are not quite like Goodison, but our coach has just told us not to feel any pressure. 

“We should play our normal game. We beat the Tanzanian champions to reach the final and this is another environment.

“There might be scouts there and two or three guys who might impress them. But we came as a team and we must play as a team.”

Shakava shepherded his side through the SportPesa Super Cup final to qualify for the trip to the north-west, beating Tanzania’s Simba SC in June. 

The two clubs’ partnership with SportPesa threw them together for a game in July 2017, which saw the Toffees win 2-1 in Tanzania and the African side will be out for revenge. 

Former Everton striker Yakubu knows exactly what it takes to thrive on Merseyside, the Nigerian spent time with the Gor Mahia squad in the build-up to the marquee fixture.

Shakava says the squad were inspired by talking to the striker and watching Senegal midfielder Idrissa Gueye strut his stuff in Everton’s 3-1 win over Brighton at the weekend.

“English and Kenyan teams are so different to play against,” said the defender.

“They do the basics a bit better than us and the way they motivate their players, the money they pay, is different and much bigger. 

“But Yakubu just motivates us and gives us confidence that we can play in England. 

“We watched Idrissa Gueye play for Everton and Victor Wanyama is a star in the Premier League. They all give us courage.”

Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia will make history tomorrow as the first African club to play an English Premier League club in the UK when they face Everton for the SportPesa trophy. Tickets are available now at