Gor Mahia coach Zdvarko Logarusic blamed a number of factors for the 0-3 loss on Friday.
“We did not play very well, we gave them so much space” Logarusic said to the Nation. However with a lineup that had 3 strikers, 2 attacking midfielders and only 1 defensive midfielder it is not clear how Gor Mahia were going to press the Egyptians.
It was the same formation he used in Victoria against Anse ReUnion. People who have seen how effective Egyptians teams are at exploiting defensive lapses would have advised him to shore up the defence.
He also attributed the loss to the absence of striker Paul Kiongera and midfielder Moses Odhiambo. Given that Gor Mahia’s problems were defensive one has to question that rationale.
He indicated that uncertainty played a key role in the poor result. “Our preparation before the Egypt match was not the best. At some point, we didn’t even know how we would travel because of lack of funds. We cannot prepare for such a match this way and hopefully our preparations for the second leg will give us positive results,” he told the Standard..Nevertheless as a coach, one of his primary jobs is to keep players focused and motivated even in cases of uncertainty. In reality, uncertainty should never be an excuse unless it is a case where players are not being paid.
Coach Logarusic has done a marvelous job since he joined Kogalo and none of these critiques are meant to take away from the fact that he is an excellent coach. However Gor Mahia fans who have been starved of continental success for years are eager for a good performance after 18 years of mediocre performances.
One thing Loga should do is consider having a discussion with coach Ezekiel Akwana, the only Kenyan coach ever to slay an Egyptian team and who seems to have a wealth of knowledge on North African teams. Not only did he beat Ismailia, he came very close to beating Club Africain of Tunisia.
Egyptian teams are also known for studying other teams in detail and always send members of their technical bench to study their opponents. It is not clear how much Logarusic knew about ENPPI beforehand but he must now busy himself with ENPPI videos and find weaknesses that Gor Mahia can exploit.
Gor official Ronald Ngala, who witnessed the match, claimed his side missed many scoring chances that would have given them the away-goal advantage.
For his part, ENPPI coach expressed Tariq El Ashry said, he is very happy to win by three goals, because the results gaves them a level of comfort but quickly added that they do not qualify for the next round,until the return match in Kenya. He also lauded his team for playing well despite suffering from extreme exhaustion due to playing too many games.
Meanwhile Gor Mahia are set to arrive from Cairo on Sunday. One hopes that fans will show up at the airport to give the coach and the players moral support for the uphill task ahead.