The Portuguese points fingers at the match officials for frustrating his team, saying they deserved to reach the group stage
Gor Mahia coach Carlos Manuel Vaz Pinto has maintained his team deserved to reach the group stage of the Caf Confederation Cup at the expense of Napsa Stars on Sunday.
The Kenyan champions faced difficult moments before they landed in Lusaka for the return leg fixture after their first trip was aborted on Friday. The team had to travel on Sunday, and only arrived in Lusaka two hours prior to kick-off, heading straight to National Heroes Stadium for the fixture.
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 Mahia 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 then advanced courtesy of a 3-2 aggregate win after a 1-0 victory in Nairobi.
The Portuguese tactician has vented his anger at the match officials for the decision they took to award the penalty and has maintained his side was the better team in the two-legged affair and also deserved to qualify despite the challenges they faced before the two matches.
“What I can say is if you come to play here or another game, we always fight to win and this is the spirit of Gor Mahia always and what I feel in Nairobi was we are better in the game, Napsa Stars don’t have one clear chance to score in Nairobi but they scored because it was one individual mistake,” Vaz Pinto told reporters after the game.
“And today [Sunday] we played very well, we fight for the result, we deserved to get the group stage but this is football, sometimes people say this is Africa but am sorry, I don’t agree to this, what people say, for football to grow in Africa, we need to stop such kind of things [not a clear penalty].
“I heard a lot of things before this game, I heard a lot of things about other referees and I said I am from Portugal I have my family and I work a lot for my family, to give my family better life, my players try a lot in the dressing room they work a lot, they have families it is not fair, if you give a lot of good things in your job and you are better, and one other team beat us [because of referee’s mistake], of course, we are very sad.”
On his observation that Napsa Stars made it to the group stage and how far they can go in the competition, Vaz Pinto said: “I don’t know how far they can go, it will all depend on the group they will get, but what I think about Napsa Stars doesn’t change.
“We analyse them before the game in Nairobi and what I feel is one team always playing long balls, football direct and always trying to reach strikers through the wingers, they don’t build a lot and they have some impressive good players but what I think they don’t deserve to qualify because we were better than them.
“We are not better, yes, but compared to them [Napsa Stars], we were better than them and I cannot talk about their chances in the group stage because we are very sad about it, about the way we got eliminated.”
At the end of the game, Gor Mahia players vented their anger towards South African referee Lebalang Mokete for awarding the late penalty but coach Vaz Pinto has moved to defend his players.
“You know I didn’t see a lot of things because of course, I understand my players were upset and frustrated because of what happened at the last minute,” Vaz Pinto continued.
“As much as I cannot agree if our behaviour is not correct and I always say this to my players, they need to have good minds always and our behaviour is correct but I understand why they tried to talk to the referee because what happened is a lot of frustration.”
Gor Mahia will now shift their focus to retain the FKF Premier League title and also win the domestic cup.