Okumu dismisses West Ham as ‘just any other team’ ahead of Conference League meeting

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FOOTBALL Okumu dismisses West Ham as ‘just any other team’ ahead of Conference League meeting

Joel Omotto • 11:20 - 13.04.2023

The Gent defender feels his side can match the Premier League team in Thursday’s quarter-final tie

Harambee Stars defender Joseph Okumu does not see anything special with West Ham United ahead of the Premier League side’s Europa Conference League quarter-final against his side KAA Gent.

Belgian outfit Gent hosts West Ham in the first leg on Thursday, needing a win to put themselves in a good position to qualify for the semi-final, ahead of the return match in London next week.

Given the pedigree of the Premier League, West Ham are seen as favourites but Okumu has dismissed that notion, saying Gent have good players who give them an equal chance of winning the tie.

"The match against West Ham is obviously important for us,” Okumu said during Wednesday’s press conference. “We fought to get this far in this tournament and I hope we have a chance to qualify for the next round as well.”

“The only difference is that they (West Ham) are fortunate enough to be in a league higher enough than the Belgium league but I believe we are professionals and we can match any team.”

Okumu has been a mainstay in the Gent defence, featuring in 39 matches this season, and has played a part in helping the club to the quarter-final following a 5-2 aggregate win over Turkish side Istanbul Basaksehir in the Round of 16.

Gent are the form team heading into the encounter as they are unbeaten in their last seven matches following five wins and two draws, scoring 21 goals while conceding just four.

West Ham, meanwhile, have been struggling in the Premier League where they sit in 14th place on the table with just two wins in their last five top-flight games although their form in Europe has been different which gives David Moyes’ men confidence.

The Hammers also have experience at this level, having reached the semi-finals of the more grueling Europa League last season.