By MICHAEL MIYOBA
NAPSA Stars coach Mohamed Fathi couldn’t hold his tears as the 2012 AFCON winner Emmanuel Mayuka came off the bench to score the equalizer for the Pensioners who made history by qualifying to the CAF Confederations Cup Group Stages.
The Pensioners who beat the Kenyan Champions Gor Mahia 1-0 in the first leg pre group stage fixture advanced 3-2 on aggregate following yesterday’s dramatic 2-2 draw at Heroes Stadium in Lusaka.
Mayuka came into the match as Bornwel Mwape’s replacement when NAPSA Stars were 2-1 down, and sent goal keeper Bornface Olouch the wrong way to score a penalty awarded in the last minute of added time as NAPSA Stars matched on.
The final whistle by central referee Martin Mokete from Lesotho presented an emotional moment for Mohamed Fathi who shed tears of joy and dedicated NAPSA’s triumph to his late father who died on Wednesday and was buried on Thursday in Egypt.
Fathi hailed his charges for not giving up until the final whistle to qualify for the Confederations Cup Group Stages.
Meanwhile, Gor Mahia coach Carlos Pinto complained of unfair officiating by referee Makete who awarded NAPSA Stars a penalty in the dying minutes of the game.
Pinto said his team was robbed and didn’t deserve to be ejected from the competition with a last minute penalty.
He said Gor Mahia was better than NAPSA Stars who had to come from behind twice to record a draw at home.
Samuel Onyango broke the deadlock at Heroes Stadium beating goal keeper Rabson Muchelenganga with a beautiful long range volley in the 17th minute.
NAPSA cut shot Gor Mahia’s celebration with Austin Banda’s equalizer after benefiting from Danny Silavwe’s cross in the 18th minute.
The Pensioners lost focus two minutes later and conceded as Cliffton Ayisi long range shot hit the upright before going in.
With NAPSA Stars trailing 2-1 Fathi was forced to make a first half substitution, introducing Emmanuel Mayuka for Bornwell Mwape.
The 2012 golden boot winner went on to score the crucial goal from a penalty awarded to NAPSA Stars after Daniel Adoko was tripped inside the eighteen yard.