The British tactician feels the players did their part to try reach the group stage and should walk tall in the streets without fear
Steven Polack has called on Gor Mahia to walk with their heads held high despite exiting the Caf Confederation Cup following a two-legged defeat to Napsa Stars on Sunday.
The Kenyan champions headed into the return leg with a lot of difficulties, as they only arrived in Zambia two hours before match kick-off and headed straight to National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka.
Despite failing to reach the group stage, Polack, who handled Gor Mahia in the 2019-20 season, has praised the players’ character and for showing a good reaction after losing the first leg at home.
“The players showed a good reaction after losing the first leg but to lose over the two legs on a penalty in the last minute must be very disappointing for the players and supporters,” Polack told Goal from his base in England.
“The players showed their character in this game and they should be proud of that, they just have to move on and focus on their next game.”
Polack, however, blamed the team’s unpreparedness for the exit saying whatever they went through before the return leg could have affected the players’ and their performance.
“If the stories that I have read on the internet are true statements about the team flying on the day of the game, that would maybe have some effect on some people’s minds,” Polack continued before adding, “There is a saying: “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.”
Ironically, Gor Mahia started the match stronger than their opponents and took the lead in the 16th minute when winger Samuel Onyango, who did not start in the first leg battle at Nyayo Stadium, broke the deadlock in the 16th minute to hand Gor Mahia an unlikely lead.
Two minutes after conceding, Napsa Stars equalised through Austin Banda with a well-timed effort past Boniface Oluoch but a determined Gor Maia fought and responded quickly as they restored their lead in the 19th minute through Miheso.
Gor Mahia then held onto the lead until added minutes of injury time when Napsa Stars were awarded a penalty which veteran striker Emmanuel Mayuka converted for the Pensioners who eventually advanced courtesy of a 3-2 aggregate win after a 1-0 victory in Nairobi.