The 24-year-old Harambee Star pushed out of a powerful header to help the Belgian team reach the play-off round on Friday
Kenyan international Joseph Okumu scored his first goal for KAA Ghent when they won 1-0 against Rigas FC 1-0 on Thursday night to advance to the play-offs of the Europa Conference League.
The tall Harambee Star scored a header in the 73rd minute to give his team an overall 3-2 victory and qualification for the play-offs, as the first match in Belgium ended 2-2.
Okumu has been a regular with the Belgian giants since joining Swedish side Elfsborg FC, and his goal against the Latvian kit gave them a showdown against Polish side Rakow Czestochowa as the winner advanced to the group stage of the competition.
The 24-year-old expressed his joy at achieving his first goal for the club and was confident he would reach the group stage.
‘It’s nice to score. We are also starting to get to know each other better now. Timing is still important and therefore you also need to know where your teammates will place the ball, ”Okumu told the club official. website.
“I am just happy with the victory. We knew we had to put in 110% to continue today. We made the most of our qualities and it paid off. ”
After playing as a right winger, Okumu said: ‘I want to play. We are professionals and we must be able to adapt to the position we have been entrusted with.
‘We are two more games away [against the Polish Rakow Czestochowa] from the group stage of the Conference League.
“It will be important for the club and the team, but also for me. As a footballer, you always hope to get as far as possible. This would be the first time I play in a European group stage.
“We will do everything in our power to keep going anyway!”
Ghent coach Hein Vanhaezebrouck was pleased with the result.
‘We played here on a tight field against a team that defended with ten men before their sixteen, which made it even harder than last time. scored with a header, “Vanhaezebrouck said the same Hall.
‘All in all we can be satisfied; we gave away almost nothing. One thing was important here and that was to keep going. We are now in the playoffs of the Conference League, one team has beaten and we are in the groups. It will be a tougher opponent because they could eliminate Kazan and that is the current leader in Russia. ”
Okumu and Ghent will shift their focus to the Belgian pro league when they host Mechelen at the Ghelamco Arena on Saturday.