Gallants confident they can still change their fortunes on the continent
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JOHANNESBURG – Captain Lehlohonolo Nonyane is confident that Marumo Gallants can still progress to the next round of the CAF Confederation Cup qualifiers after losing the first leg of the preliminary qualifiers against Futuro Kings in Equatorial Guinea.
Gallants had a roller-coaster outing in their first campaign in the top-flight last term as TTM, after buying the status of Bidvest Wits. They finished 12th on the log standings but still managed to bag the Nedbank Cup crown against Chippa United in May.
Then still known as Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila, that triumph under coach Dylan Kerr ensured that they qualified for the Confederation Cup this season. But Gallants have stuttered in the preliminary round, losing in the first leg away to Futuro.
However, they are taking confidence from the fact that their away goal in the 2-1 loss could come in handy in the return leg at Peter Mokaba Stadium this afternoon. A loss or draw, though, will mean that their continental campaign is over this season.
“For our second leg against Futuro Kings on Friday, I believe that we still have a good chance of winning the game. We have an away goal advantage. Even though we lost 2-1, I believe that was not a true reflection of the game,” Nonyane said.
The odds were stacked against Gallants to come out with a result in Mongomo. The team travelled with 14 players due to administrative issues as some of the players didn’t have passports, while others were not registered for Caf last month.
But with home advantage on their side, they will be eager to, at least, keep a clean sheet and score even if it’s one goal in order to progress to the next round of the qualifiers. Washington Arubi says he’s confident that they can overturn the tie.
“I promise that we’ll be able to bounce back, considering the way the guys put the effort today (away). I can see us going to the next round,” Arubi reasoned. “But I am not thinking about the next round but the next game where we have to bounce back.”
Arubi linked up with the rest of the players late in Mongomo after having VISA complications. He had come back from camp with the Zimbabwean national team. But the bulky goalie says he was okay with playing, despite arriving two hours before kick-off.
“It was tough. But at the end of the day, I had to play for the team because I am contracted. I had to be strong and go through the journey. I got here at 2pm and played at 4pm. But I didn’t feel anything. Mentally and physically I’m on point,” he said.