Tough task beckons as Gor aim to scale Motema mountain in Kinshasa

Steve Polack has not lost hope of qualifying to the CAF Confederation Cup group stage despite escaping narrowly in the hands of visitors DC Motema Pembe, in their first leg clash staged at MISC Kasarani on Sunday. A narrow escape it was, as Polack had to play defensively at the tail end of the match having lost an industrious Charles Momanyi who was given his marching orders after a deliberate handball in the box. Yet, it took the heroics of Tanzanian import David Mapigano to thwart onslaughts from Motema, including the penalty that resulted from Momanyi’s blunder. It ended at 1-1, but Polack says it is not over with focus shifting to the return match in a fortnight away to Kinshasa. So tough is the challenge but Gor have no choice but to scale the Motema mountain to reach the group stages where Sh27 million lie in wait. “We have to find a goal away. This (Motema) is a good team and playing them with a man down was not easy. We have a chance away if we prepare well. It would have been harder had we lost,” said the coach, who had to withdrawn attacker Dickson Ambundo for centre-back Joachim Oluoch to ensure a share of spoils. Motema coach Mwinyi Hazera signaled he expected a better result, underlining his men must show more hunger in the return match. “We were stupid at some point. We lacked concentration, before we knew it we were a goal down. We must work on that concentration. In football you have to concentrate to the end. We now know our opponents better so we can prepare with an idea,” the calm coach averred. Joash Onyango was particularly not at his best, having skipped training for almost two weeks in protest against unpaid salaries. He almost gifted Motema two easy goals in the first half, by making unusual blunders in the box. Kenneth Muguna, another player who was absent in K’Ogalo’s camp for as much time, showed some character especially in the second half having started slowly in the opening stanza. Worst was Nicholas Kipkirui, who could not convert several open chances especially in the second half, uncharacteristic poor timing and easy dispossession exposing him badly. With the result, Gor will need at least a 1-0 win away to Congo, to advance to the group stage. The funding crisis facing the 18-time Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions remains the major challenge in the preparation for the match. As seen in their previous trip to Algeria this season when they flew to play USM Algers only a day to the clash, lack of funds to ease their trips has been hampering their away performances. In contrast, Motema had the luxury of camping in Rwanda for days before coming to Nairobi, a difference in financial muscle clearly manifesting in the two teams’ rehearsals.

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