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To Gor coach Pinto, a walk into next round is possible

FOOTBALL By Rodgers Eshitemi | February 16th 2021
Gor Mahia FC coach Carlos Manuel Pinto reacts after loss to NAPSA Stars FC of Zambia during their First Leg clash in play-offs of CAF Confederation Cup at Nyayo national stadium in Nairobi on February 14, 2021. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

Confed Cup. Gor Mahia complicate their CAF Confederation Cup Group stages chances with home defeat to Napsa Stars

Napsa Stars tactician Mohamed Fathi downplays the Zambians chances of progressing to the lucrative group stages.

Gor Mahia coach Manuel Vaz Pinto believes the record Kenyan champions are still capable of turning around a 1-0 first-leg deficit in their Sunday’s CAF Confederation Cup play-offs return leg fixture against Zambia’s Napsa Stars in Lusaka.

Daniel Adoko’s 86th minute screamer at Nyayo Stadium on Sunday left the Kenyan giants with a mountain to climb ahead of the highly anticipated reverse fixture, whose winner on aggregate, will progress to the lucrative group stages of the second tier competition of African football.

K’Ogalo were a pale shadow of their former selves as they struggled to break down a resilient David ‘Calabar’ Owino-led defence.

While Gor Mahia’s attack looked lethargic, the pensioners defended bravely as they absorbed pressure from their hosts for the better part of the game before they hit them with a late sucker punch when Adoko netted the winner after pouncing on a loose ball following Geoffrey Ochieng’s poor clearance.

And having failed to score at home, the Portuguese knows he must convince his players that they can fight back and score two unanswered goals in the away trip.

Gor Mahia FC's defensive midfielder Ernest Wendo is left for dead as NAPSA Stars FC Daniel Adoko celebrates scoring against them. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

“Anything can still happen in Zambia. We have one game to go; they beat us at home but we can also beat them in Zambia. If they won here, we also have chances of winning there. I think everything is possible. We know they will sit back because they are leading but if we score there we will go to the group stages,” said Pinto.

Reflecting on his side’s home first leg home defeat, he said: “We played better than our opponents and created more chances to score but gave away an opportunity to Napsa.” 

“I don’t remember Napsa creating a single chance in that game. We just conceded the goal after our defender gave away the ball to a Napsa player. But sometimes such things happen in football. Of course, we won more balls in the game, but I think we can still do better.”

Though Napsa Stars coach Mohamed Fathi thinks he side increased their chances of making it into the group stage, he urged his players, who are likely to be boosted by the return of former Southampton striker Emmanuel Mayuka from injury, to finish off the job on Sunday.

“The business is not yet over and football is very unpredictable. We have to remain focused and finish the job at home. But immediately we board the plane back to Zambia, the pressure will be over: it will be time to work,” said Fathi.

“But this win is a big step on our way to the group stages. Gor Mahia is a big team and it is not easy to beat them at home. We know their record, so the win is very good for everyone at the club.”

He added: “When you play away games, you have to build pressure on the opponents.”

 

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