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No pressure for Oktay ahead of Zamalek tie

Gor Mahia head coach Hassan Oktay on the touchline during their SportPesa Cup match against Tanzania’s Mbao FC at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on January 23, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 1 – Gor Mahia head coach Hassan Oktay says he is under no pressure as the side prepares to take on Egyptian giants Zamalek in the first Group D match of the CAF Confederations Cup at the Kasarani Stadium on Sunday.

Oktay who took charge at Gor two months ago has been increasingly under pressure with the team struggling for results, but the Cypriot has told Capital Sport he is not letting the pressure get on his nerves ahead of the important duel.

“Pressure is always there in football and I understand Gor Mahia because it is a big team and we are required to always win. But that will not affect me or the team. We know what is required of us and we know we have a lot to do,” the tactician said.

He added; “The team is improving day by day because we did not have a good pre-season and now we have to work double.”

Gor failed to defend their SportPesa Cup in Dar es Salaam and were dumped out in the first round after losing on penalties to Tanzania’s Mbao.

They came back home and were welcomed with a 1-0 defeat at the hands of KCB but managed to recover some ground with their 2-0 midweek win over Sony Sugar in Nakuru.

Gor Mahia midfielder Francis Mustafa wheels away from New Star de Douala’s Orian Jores during their CAF Confederations Cup play-off round at the Kasarani Stadium on January 13, 2019.

“It was very important for us to get that win because of the confidence of the players. It has put us at a very good place mentally and the focus is on for Saturday,” the tactician stated.

He knows it will not be a walk in the park against Zamalek, a side that boats of good history in continental football and players who can match any side.

“I have done my homework on them and I definitely know it will be a tough challenge for us. They have good players who are in their national team and that shows they are a very quality side. We are ready for them,” the tactician noted.

“We have looked at their strengths and weaknesses and we have devised a strategy to beat them. We know it will work because we have players who can execute it very well,” he further stated.

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Gor will be boosted with the availability of defensive duo Harun Shakava and Ernest Wendo while star striker Dennis Oliech, Nicholas Kipkurui and left back Geoffrey Ochieng have all been registered and cleared to play.

Gor Mahia’s Lawrence Juma is joined in celebration by Francis Mustafa as he scored Gor’s first goal during their CAF Confederations Cup play-off round match against Cameroon’s New Star de Douala at the Kasarani Stadium on January 12, 2018. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

However, midfield kingpin Ernest Wendo and striker Francis Mustafa will be suspended for the tie having picked up subsequent yellow cards in the last two CAF matches.

“It will be great to have them available because they make the team stronger. Dennis has shown what he can do in the few games he has played in and I know he will help us a lot,” Oktay noted.

Meanwhile, the tactician has said the squad will not be affected despite the exit of Ivorian striker Ephraim Guikan who bolted out of the club to join Zambia’s Buildcon.

There was already some strained relations between the two.

“We have a lot of strikers in the team and I don’t think it will affect us,” the coach said.

Gor Mahia midfielder Cersidy Okeyo attempts to go past AFC Leopards’ Duncan Otieno during their Hull City challenge match at the Afraha Stadium in Nakuru on May 1, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

In Wendo’s absence, Oktay will look on Cersidy Okeyo to do the marshalling job in midfield while Kenneth Muguna might be called upon after making a return in the midweek win over Sony in Nakuru.

Muguna had been a long time absentee at the club over what the coach has now termed as a misunderstanding and has affirmed the midfielder is an integral part of his plans.

“Someone made a joke and he took it seriously. But I called him and we had coffee together and we cleared everything. He is like my son and when there’s a misunderstanding, we solve it and move on, He is a good kid and played really well against Sony. He is a part of this team and I am happy we put everything behind us,” the tactician stated.

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