DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, Jan 22 – Gor Mahia head coach Hassan Oktay believes they have been placed in a fair CAF Confederations Cup group stage pool, but has picked out Egyptian giants Zamalek as the toughest team from the pool.
Gor have been placed in Group D alongside the Egyptian side, NA Hassan Dey of Algeria and Angola’s Petro Atletico. The Kenyan champions begin their campaign at home against Zamalek on February 3.
“It is a very fair group for us. When you are in the group stage, you shouldn’t pick things. You have to go out and play for a result. What I have noticed with us is that we play great at home and that is something we will maximize,” the tactician told Capital Sport.
The tactician added; “We now have to work to be good away from home and we need to get used to things like weather and different conditions,”
“I think Zamalek is the toughest team there and they will give us a big challenge. But, I have friends over there in Egypt and during my time in Saudi Arabia, I also coached some Egyptians so I have an idea of what they are capable of,”
“I will do my research also about the Angolan and Algerian teams and we will be prepared very well for them.”
Gor made it to their second consecutive group stage appearance in the Confederations Cup after holding Cameroonian side New Star de Douala to a barren draw in the return leg last weekend, having won the first leg 2-1 in Nairobi.
Oktay says he was pleased with the result and furthermore how his players executed the pre-match plan for the game and he believes they will keep improving as time goes by.
“It was very important for me and the team to qualify but most importantly for Kenyan football and the national team. It is a good test now to get into the group stages,”
“It was a difficult match and I even told my players before. We knew how to contain them because they did not have a plan B or C. I had two play with two defensive midfielders so that we win all the second balls. I knew I have players who can keep the ball and we did that very well especially in the final 20 minutes when they pressed,” he added.
As he plans to get into the group stages, Oktay’s biggest target is to plan better and improve the team especially in terms of finishing.
“I did one mistake when we played Lobi Stars and I don’t want to do the same mistake again. We have to go step by step and strategize to get a result. I am not worried now because we have a great target and with such good players we will achieve it,” the tactician further stated.
Last season, Gor missed out on a place in the quarter finals by just a point, with their loss at home to Rayon Sport toppling them out of contention.
This time round though, Oktay is optimistic that with better planning, they can breach that group stage membrane and get into the last eight for the first time ever.
“We will achieve that, I am not worried. We are improving day by day and the more matches we play the better we are. I found the team very unfit but now, they are getting into my philosophy very well. I have tried to inject some new things in the team and they are doing well,” he noted.
After playing Zamalek on February 3, K’Ogalo will take a trip to Angola to take on Petro Atletico in Luanda 10 days later before facing Na Hassan Dey at Kasarani on February 24.