Oktay gracious in Zamalek defeat
There is still plenty to play for in Group D of the CAF Confederation Cup as the quarterfinals qualification go right down to the wire (on Sunday) following last weekend’s matchday five results.
With the group’s permutations and only top two teams progressing to the next round of the competition, all the four teams, Zamalek (Egypt), Petro Atletico (Angola), NA Hussein (Algeria) and Gor Mahia (Kenya) have a chance of qualifying after Sunday’s final round fixtures.
The Egyptian giants took a huge step towards reaching the last eight after humiliating Gor Mahia 4-0 in Alexandria on Sunday night.
Their second successive win after a stuttering start to the qualification saw the White Knights go top of the group with eight points, one more than joint-second Petro and Hussein.
Gor dropped to the bottom of the group with six points. Petro stunned Hussein 2-0 in Luanda to set up an intriguing final day match with the record Kenyan champions in Nairobi as Zamalek travel to Algeria.
Heading into the final round of matches, Gor Mahia must revenge their first leg 2-1 defeat to Petro for them to sail through regardless of the outcome in Algiers.
But for Zamalek to qualify, they just need a draw against their North African counterparts.
However, Gor Mahia were a shadow of their former selves at Borg El Arab Stadium with their sloppy defending allowing Zamalek to score two goals from two set pieces in the opening 25 minutes.
Mahmoud Alaa put the hosts in the lead after 12 minutes from Hamdi Nagguez’s free kick before Youssef Obama doubled the lead 13 minutes later when Gor backline failed to clear their lines after another free kick came into the box.
K’Ogalo then switched off in the 83rd minute with Ferjani Sassi and Omar Elsaid scoring two quick fire goals in a span of two minutes, and help the hosts enact revenge on the East Africans.
Despite the heavy defeat, Gor coach Hassan Oktay said he was still proud of his players as he urged them to focus on bouncing back on Sunday’s ‘massive’ game against Petro.
“My players gave their best and I’m still proud of them. We lost to an experienced Zamalek team with over eight quality players who have graced the World Cup. These kind of games come with a lot of international experience and in our squad we only have three players with such experience,” Oktay told The Standard Sports on phone from Egypt.
Although Gor overcame both Zamalek (4-2) and Hussein (2-0) at Kasarani Stadium, the Turkish coach clearly knows destiny is in their own hands.
“It’s going to be tough, but as you all know we have the home advantage. With this, we need the support of our fans.”
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