Even though Gor Mahia face an uphill task to qualify for the group stage of the Caf Confederation Cup following Sunday’s 1-1 draw with DC Motema Pembe at Kasarani Stadium, head coach Steven Polack remains optimistic of his charges making the impossible possible in Kinshasa this weekend.
The record Kenyan champions have found themselves in a precarious position after they threw away the lead to share the spoils with the Congolese in a match that saw them play the last ten minutes with a man less following Charles Momanyi’s sending off.
The former Kakamega Homeboyz center-half was given a straight red-card for deliberately stopping a goal-bound shot with his hand in the 78th minute. However, goalkeeper David Mapigano saved his blushes when he parried Junior Kone’s penalty away.
Ivorian striker Gnamien Yikpe Gislain had come off the bench to give K’Ogalo the lead with his first touch in the 63rd minute only for William Likuta to cut his celebration short with an equaliser ten minutes later.
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Though Motema Pembe have the away goal advantage, the British coach believes qualification to the lucrative group stage is still open.
“Motema Pembe got an away goal, but I’ve seen enough today (Sunday) to know that we will make more chances when we go there (Congo) this weekend,” said Polack.
“It’s not a happy feeling, but there is still more to play for; the door is still wide open for both teams. We will continue working hard on all areas and hopefully, we will be ready for the return leg.”
But to make it to the group stage for the second season in a row, Polack said his charges must rediscover their ruthless streak in front of goal in Congo.
“We created many scoring chances and I think we deserved to win the first leg. Football is about scoring goals if you don’t put the ball behind the net the wasted chances come back to haunt you. Goal scoring is all about composure and patience in front of goal,” he said.
“We have to recover, focus and try to get the players’ mentally right. We know we’ve had some difficult times in the last few weeks, but if you look at the players’ attitude it’s been terrific. So, we hope to take this attitude to Congo and hopefully, we will get either one or two goals.”
Motema Pembe coach Isaac Ngata insists there is still a lot to play for in Kinshasa.
“Even with an away goal, nothing is easy. We are going to fight again because one of us has to win to qualify. But we have to study our game and work differently in the return leg,” said Ngata.
Ngata added: “It was difficult for as at the beginning but we settled down as the game progressed.”