Gor Mahia custodian Gad Mathew said he was confident he would rise to the occasion during the nervous post-match shoot-outs where he denied AFC Leopards two consecutive penalties in their Betway Cup finals at Nyayo Stadium on Sunday.
Gad was the toast of the day as his exploits during the dramatic shoot-out literally won the 18-time Kenyan champions the domestic cup, effectively handing them a lifeline in the continental showpiece after missing out narrowly on the Champions League slot.
He managed to deny Said Tsuma and Isaac Kipyegon with Eric Munene being the only one who managed to send his shot past him. K’Ogalo went on to win 4-1 after Sydney Ochieng, Kenneth Muguna, Clifton Miheso and Sammy Onyango hit the target.
Asked to explain what exactly was running through his mind moments before and during the shoot-out, Gad said he had prepared himself psychologically for the task, making it easier for him to block the shots.
“Immediately the referee blew the whistle for full-time, I knew what lay ahead and I immediately conditioned my mind for the task,” said Mathew.
Losing the golden glove accolade to John Oyemba of AFC Leopards didn’t seem to bother him at all as he beamed off a broad smile when he and his teammates finally lay hands on the glittering silverware amidst all the pomp and colour that characterised the award presentation ceremony. “I’m elated I saved the penalties, and even more excited we actually bagged the trophy,” he added.
And with his current impressive run in league matches the 24-year-old custodian who has systematically secured and consolidated his forte as the team’s first-choice keeper is now urging his colleagues to unleash all their arsenals in their renewed quest to garner for a fifth consecutive Football Kenya Federation Premier League title.
Gad believes his time to don the national team colours has finally dawned. “Of course yes, I strongly believe it’s a high time I was considered for a national team call-up. I’m confident I am up to the task,” he added.
“We still have the conviction the top flight tile is within our reach. With the dozen matches left, we can still turn the tables on the perceived favourites and clinch the title,” said Mathew.
That notwithstanding, Gad says he and his team-mates are wary of the threat posed by current leaders, Tusker, who went on to secure a berth in the Caf Champions League by June 30, the deadline set by the regional football governing body for all member associations to present names of representatives.