Oktay feels the heat at Gor’s hot seat
- As the last whistle announced the end of Sunday's mouthwatering clash between Kenyan record champions Gor Mahia and Cameroon's New Star de Douala, one main character of the 90-minute action was exposed by the anxiety that evidently engulfed head coach Hassan Oktay.
- The Gor Mahia coach had a difficult time believing the match was over at 2-1, albeit his charges taking absolute control of the duel yet he difference was so narrow, so narrow, that it would require more than a miracle or the angles grace, at least , to see Gor snake their way to the group stages where some Ksh. 26 million awaits the winner of the two-leg clash.
As the last whistle announced the end of Sunday’s mouthwatering clash between Kenyan record champions Gor Mahia and Cameroon’s New Star de Douala, one main character of the 90-minute action was exposed by the anxiety that evidently engulfed head coach Hassan Oktay.
The Gor Mahia coach had a difficult time believing the match was over at 2-1, albeit his charges taking absolute control of the duel yet he difference was so narrow, so narrow, that it would require more than a miracle or the angles grace, at least , to see Gor snake their way to the group stages where some Ksh. 26 million awaits the winner of the two-leg clash.
Unending gestures at the touchline, hands on his head, fingers at work trying to straighten his hair summed up his reactions to a glut of missed chances that would have put the game to bed, if only his charges had by then learnt the importance of being ice cold in front of goal
Undoubtedly, Oktay knew too well the return match in Douala will be no walk in the park, the recent outcome in Enugu, Nigeria where they bowed out of the CAF Champions League despite carrying a 3-1 advantage, a stark reminder.
It was that away goal that proved too expensive to Gor, as Lobi Stars stole what had been concluded as Oktay’s charges Champions League group stage ticket, only to concede 2-0 with eight minutes to go to all but blow their CAF-Champions League group stage quest. With it came the loss of a staggering Ksh 57 million, a colossal sum in this part of the world, enough to run through the team’s season budget.
Thus, it was just understandable that the disturbed Cyprus born Turkish man could not hide his frustration from the Kasarani result, having initially declared his intention to reap bountifully at home.
“We had a lot of chances that we could not convert, and the result should have been much different. My players fought hard, especially to get that second goal to ensure we won at home, but our plan was to avoid giving them (Douala) an away goal,” Oktay said in an interview with our sister station Radio Citizen after bringing his emotions under check in the wake of the tumultuous match.
Gor were determined from the onset to pump in goals in Doaula’s net, but uninspiring attack line led by Rwandan import Jacques Tuyisenge struggled to put the ball into the net!
Although he finally grabbed the winner after an opener by midfielder Lawrence Juma, Tuyisenge and his co-attacker Francis Mustapha know too well that they failed to return in kind the tireless work by the dazzling Francis Kahata and impressive Boniface Omondi who put in a shift on the flanks to feed them with pin-point deliveries.
“I don’t want to talk about Oliech (Dennis) now and what role he could have played if he was available for this match. I need to focus on qualifying to the group stage then I can think about him. I have said he is experienced and special having played at the highest level of global club football but we have to go step by step,” said Oktay, seemingly unimpressed by the query of Oliech, and the role he could have played in the match.
Oliech who recently penned a two-year deal with the record KPL champions is not registered for the competition thus can only feature from the group stages should Gor qualify for that level.
Oktay has already seen a glimpse of how the demanding Gor can make their anger felt, moreso when things fail to go to plan.
This anger was discernible on the terraces following the substitution of Kahata late in the second half, for Samuel Onyango, a development that did not go down well with the Green Army.
He thus knows, the result in Cameroon in a week’s time will matter, and could define as to whether he prolongs his stay at Gor.
“I urge fans to be more patient, they are the best here but sometimes they can’t see what we see. The changes we made bore us the second goal, and you know had we avoided conceding the story would be different. We have to fix our defence and make sure we handle set pieces better, because this happened again against Lobi Stars,” Oktay said.
The absence of skipper Harun Shakava and Harambee Stars stalwart Joash Onyango clearly disoriented the Gor back-line and it was evident in their game.
Joachim Oluoch and Charles Momanyi showed their worth as stop-gap replacements , though pundits opine the story would have been different had the suspended duo been available.
On his part, losing coach, Gerald Mbimi of Douala, praised Gor for a “beautiful game”, but cautioned his side will have to be more aggressive at home.
“They (Gor) played very well, we have not done well as we expected and I hope we can get our plan right in the second leg. Our target will be simple: ensure we qualify, although we cannot expect an easy match just because we will be playing home,” the tactician offered.
Douala, who finished third in their Elite One 2018 season, benefited from an away goal to advance to this stage having drawn Libyan outfit Al Ahli 1-1in Tripoli, after a barren stalemate in Limbs, Douala.
Gor has struggled to replicate last season’s record at the local and continental arenas thus far, diminishing the confidence that the team swam in, to miss the CAF-Confederation Cup quarter finals by a whisker while winning the local for a record 17-time.
Meanwhile, the heat of managing congested fixtures is real on Oktay, as Gor gets ready for Super Cup in Tanzania with Kenyan Premier League on.
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