NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 26 – AFC Leopards head coach Rodolfo Zapata was gracious in defeat after seeing his side lose 2-0 to bitter rivals Gor Mahia on Saturday, in the process seeing K’Ogalo confirm their status as the 2018 Kenyan Premier League champions.
A nine-minute stoppage due to crowd trouble did not stop Gor as goals from Boniface Omondi and Bernard Ondiek saw them complete a double over Ingwe having beaten them 2-1 in the first leg.
“No excuses. We lost to Gor, they were better than us and we say congratulations and I want to wish them all the best in the International Competitions,” Zapata told Capital Sport after the match.
“We played well and the first 30 minutes we were excellent. But we ended up doing some mistakes. We created many scoring opportunities but we couldn’t finish and it was not a good day for us,” the Argentine tactician further added.
The loss was AFC’s first in five games and put to end an envious run of four wins on the trot which saw them rise to third in the standings. With bandari winning 1-0 against Nzoia Sugar in Mombasa, AFC’s hopes of clinching second spot were thwarted.
Skipper Duncan Otieno was also disappointed losing for a second consecutive time to their arch rivals but maintains they will rise from the disappointment.
“its an unfortunate loss because we had prepared to win, but things did not go as planned. We have lost yes, but it’s not the end of life. We will pick ourselves from here and move on to finish the season strongly. They (Gor) were only a point from winning the league and congratulations to them,” the skipper said.
He added; “We will go back to the drawing board and look at how our season went and work on the mistakes we had, correct them and focus on having a better season next year.”
In the derby, AFC missed up to seven first team players and Otieno said that cost them as they had to patch up in most of the positions.
Coach Zapata however said that should not be an excuse, noting that they simply couldn’t match up well to Gor’s challenge.
“We tried different formations and tried out different tactics but we couldn’t finish the chances we had. I am sorry to the AFC supporters because we lost but we tried. We have to move on from here and make sure we win all the remaining games. We are AFC Leopards, we are a big team and we have to win,” the coach further noted.
The team now focuses on pushing for a second spot finish despite falling three points off Bandari.
Meanwhile, Zapata has asked for patience as he continues to rebuild the team with a young group of players and added that next season they will be in better shape.
“We are playing very good football now but we need to be patient with the process of building the young players,” the coach said.