Ulinzi Stars coach Benjamin Nyangweso says that the mind games he played on Egyptian club Smouha last week was the reason his team was able to pull off the excellent performance during Saturday’s Caf Confederation Cup return match in Machakos.
The soldiers put up a gallant fight in their home match against Smouha, although they recorded a 4-3 aggregate loss that eventually saw them get eliminated from the competition.
Nyangweso explained that after Ulinzi’s 4-0 defeat in the away match played in Alexandria a week ago, he deliberately made utterances that insinuated that they had lost all hope of remaining in the competition.
This, he said, served to give the Egyptians a destructive sense of overconfidence in their approach to the return match.
“When I said that we are not Barcelona to score five goals, I knew what I was doing. You know there is a language you can use on an opponent so that they stop viewing you as a threat and they relax even in their approach to the game. That is what I did.
“I think it worked because Smouha came here with some crazy levels of confidence. They came with the mentality that they would win easily and we took advantage and neutralize them completely.
“We did not make it to the next round, but we picked important lessons in the four games we have played. The boys have worked very hard today and I wish they can bring that kind of determination to the league matches,” he said.
Nyangweso’s boys indeed delivered a performance worthy of their status as five-time SportPesa Premier League champions.
They destroyed all potential invasions by the Egyptian club, managed to score three goals and looked keen on writing for themselves a lovely comeback story in the second half of the match.
Putting five past the Egyptians proved impossible in the end, and Ulinzi were effectively tossed out of the continental competition despite the gallant fight they put in the return match.
Midfielder Samuel Onyango proved once more to be the emerging force in the team, scoring two goals to bring his goal tally to four so far this year.
Nyangweso offered a glowing tribute to the 23-year old, admitting that he is coming out as a timely replacement for former club top scorer John Mark Makwatta who left the club for Slovakian club FC Nitra.
The soldiers will now redirect their energies to reclaiming the league title they last won in 2010.