Oktay: Poor preseason has cost us big deal, but we will rise
Gor Mahia tactician Hassan Oktay now says he inherited a team that was not well prepared for the 2018/19 season.
Oktay, who was speaking to Citizen Digital after their Kenyan Premier League (KPL) 4-1 win over Mount Kenya FC on Wednesday, Gor had a jumbled preseason hence the poor start.
The record Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions were like a flock without a shepherd after their Liverpool tour in November 2018, that was followed by unprecedented resignation of former coach Dylan Kerr.
Into the 2018/19 season, Gor have struggled to maintain a clean record in the KPL and exited the CAF Champions League in the knockout stages, in the hands of a lowly ranked Lobi Stars of Nigeria.
‘’The kind of training they had last season did not help the players. It didn’t help them develop or add anything for the new season,’’ underscored Oktay.
He was just days old at K’Ogalo when he took on Bandari in the season opener they lost 2-1 in Mbaraki, Mombasa, before kicking off his short-lived end CAF Champions League sojourn.
Besides the poor preseason, uncertainty that surrounded key players in Gor’s squad could not help the KPL champions either. Francis Kahata was said to be on his way to Algeria’s Constantine, utility man Philemon Otieno to Black Leopards while Humphrey Mieno was associated with Ethiopia’s St. Georges.
Oktay is however confident his charges are gradually getting back to their norm, and is optimistic of making the CAF Confederations Cup Group Stage. In Wednesday’s clash, the tactician rested most of the players he feels will have the key role away to Limbe, Cameroon, on Sunday during their second leg clash against New Star de Douala.
“You cannot expect me to field my entire first team when we have such a big assignment ahead. I need them for the CAF duty and they need to keep safe from injuries,’’ added the coach.
On the bench were Goalkeeper Boniface Oluoch, defenders Charles Momanyi, Otieno, Joachim Oluoch and Pascal Ogweno, all of whom he intends to field in Cameroon.
Lead striker Jacques Tuyisenge was also benched in the poorly attended KPL match yesterday. Any draw will be enough for Oktay’s men to advance, having won 2-1 at home on Sunday.
Players will have to accelerate their mentality into winning ways from the slow start that the Cyprus-born coach has conceded, with yet another regional tournament scheduled for them just after the Cameroon tour.
They will they fly back to Nairobi on January 21, where they will connect directly from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to Dar es Salaam for the Super Cup tournament which kicks off Tuesday on January 22.
Pressure will be on Otay to defend the Super Cup gong that Gor has won twice in a row, guided by his predecessors Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno (current assistant) and Dylan Kerr.