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Polack swings attention to league, Cup hunt

Gor Mahia FC head coach Steve Polack during a past match. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 4 – Gor Mahia head coach Steve Polack says the team will not be derailed despite failing to punch a ticket to the group phase of the 2019/20 CAF Confederations Cup after a 3-2 aggregate loss to DR Congo’s DC Motema Pembe.

Gor have proceeded to the ‘money phase’ of continental football twice in a row, but couldn’t complete a hattrick coming short in the second leg where they lost 2-1 in Kinshasa on Sunday.

“No one loves to lose and we are disappointed definitely that we couldn’t achieve one of our targets. But there were so many circumstances that surrounded our campaign and sometimes, there is only so much you can ask of the players. We take it on the chin and move forward,” Polack told Capital Sports shortly after the team jetted back from Congo.

“We had a chat with the players after the game and we made that decision to move on from here. We have to go back to defend the league title and fight for the Cup as well. We have one trophy already and if we can win two more, then we can count that as a successful season,” added the British tactician.

The team has been clouded with financial struggles since the exit of sponsors SportPesa with players reportedly going for months without salaries and allowances.

At the same time, Gor had a thinned squad heading to the CAF tournaments with most of the new signings having not been registered by the time the window closed.

Gor Mahia defender Joash Onyango in action against a DC Motema Pembe player. Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

“I think we had one of the smallest squads in the competition and then add on the fact that there were injuries and suspensions, it was hard for us,” stated Polack.

He has also stated that the high number of new players in the squad as well as a new technical bench was also a factor, saying that success in continental football is always hinged on a squad that has been together for long.

“We need to be together for long and that requires patience. We had four or five new players in the squad and sometimes that is a problem,” he noted.

Looking back at the home and away ties against Motema Pembe, Polack decried poor finishing as the biggest factor that led to their exit, saying they should have easily and comfortably wrapped up both ends of the tie.

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“We competed really well but we lacked composure infront of goal. In the first leg and second leg we had the chances but couldn’t finish. Even after we conceded the second goal in Kinshasa, we had good chances to score,”

Gor Mahia head coach Steven Polack with his assistant Patrick Odhiambo during the CAF Champions League match against Algeria’s USM Alger at the Kasarani Stadium on September 29, 2019

“We have to keep our heads up and keep working hard to improve every aspect of our game,” he added.

K’Ogalo will shift their focus back to KPL action and will only have one day to rest before taking on Mathare United in a crunch tie in Machakos on Wednesday. After that, they will prepare for the big one, the Mashemeji Derby against arch rivals AFC Leopards on Sunday.

“We will need to rest a few legs to ensure that everyone gets a rest and is ready for Sunday. We need to have a good response on Wednesday and win because that will set us in a good mood of confidence,” Polack opined.

Victory for Gor will see them rise back to the summit of the KPL standings as they are placed second with 15 points after five games, just one shy of Tusker FC who have played three games more.

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