In Zamalek rout, Gor defence gives Oktay plenty to ponder
- In masterminding a victory over a team with nine CAF club titles up its sleeves, the Turk might have bought himself sufficient time to pass his methods through to his players.
- While Nicholas Kipkirui and Dennis Oliech - called upon for their continental debuts - proved they can provide extra ammunition with one goal apiece, a rejigged defence left Oktay with plenty to ponder.
- The Kenyan champions play away at Vihiga United on Wednesday before hosting derby rivals AFC Leopards on Saturday.
For a club that places persistently high expectations on its coaches, Gor Mahia FC boss Hassan Oktay has yet to win K’Ogalo hearts over.
But in masterminding a victory over a team with nine CAF club titles up its sleeves, the Turk might have bought himself sufficient time to pass his methods through to his players.
Succeeding Dylan Kerr, the Englishman whose charisma alone endeared him to the K’Ogalo faithful, was always going to be a tough task for any manager and Oktay has not been spared by the fact.
Gor’s 4-2 victory over Zamalek on Sunday gave them a perfect start to their CAF Confederation Cup mini-league campaign and could prove a turning point for a team struggling to find the swagger it had under Kerr.
It was only the second time Gor have managed back-to-back wins across all competitions this season with the victory coming on the back of Wednesday’s 2-0 league success over Sony Sugar.
“From Sony to Zamalek we’ve become better and better and now the confidence is there. We have games coming up so fast it’s a problem for us but big teams must be ready all the time. This game (against Zamalek) is over and we have to focus on the league again,” Oktay said after the memorable win.
At the end an effervescent display against the Egyptian giants, Oktay emphasized the result should have been at least 6-2 and perhaps rightly so, going by the numerous chances his boys spurned in the face of goal.
The Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions created numerous chances and sliced open the visiting defence with much ease but more worrying for Oktay should his side’s inability to shut out an opponent.
While Nicholas Kipkirui and Dennis Oliech – called upon for their continental debuts – proved they can provide extra ammunition with one goal apiece, a rejigged defence left Oktay with plenty to ponder.
The tactician conspicuously left captain Harun Shakava out of the squad as he resorted for a three-man back-line centered around Charles Momanyi with Philemon Otieno and Joachim Ochieng on either his sides.
The trio was at guilt for the second goal, caught higher up-field and flatfooted when Youssef Morsy Fayed’s pass allowed Ibrahim Hassan to run clear on goal and complete his brace.
In truth, it was not a clean hit from Hassan and goalkeeper Boniface Oluoch must share the blame for cheaply allowing it to roll over past him after getting a touch and after he had seen it all the way.
“Every single Gor Mahia player has to be ready and don’t forget Joachim and Charles did well when they played home and away against New Stars de Douala of Cameroon.
“They’ve played together in four games and we’ve conceded one goal during that time so to me it was not a risk having them start against Zamalek,” Oktay said when asked of his decision to leave Shakava out.
With the stirring victory, Gor took early charge of Group D, level on three points but with a better goal difference over Algerians NA Hussein Day who defeated Angolan side Petro de Luanda in the other clash.
“It’s been a week in which the players felt pressure from the fans and the press. Losing in Tanzania (relinquishing the Super Cup title) made the players ask questions and I think it has been a motivation for them,” Oktay said.
Jacques Tuyisenge proved why he Gor’s man for the big occasion yet again, turning the first half into a personal duel with Hassan with a brace of his own and set up Kipkirui for the winner as Gor raced to victory in the second half.
Lawrence Juma, given a deeper midfield job alongside Kenneth Muguna, gave a shining performance with Francis Kahata and Boniface Omondi also impressing.
The Kenyan champions play away at Vihiga United on Wednesday before hosting derby rivals AFC Leopards on Saturday.
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