DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania – Everton FC manager Ronald Koeman admitted surprise at the quality of competition given to his side by record 15-time SportPesa Premier League (SPL) champions Gor Mahia in their friendly on Thursday.
Former Manchester United Captain Wayne Rooney broke the deadlock with a terrific strike in the 35th minute before Jacques Tuyisenge levelled matters a minute later.
Kieran Dowell scored the winner three minutes to time at the National Stadium in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.
Koeman, in a post-match interview, hailed the Kenyan giants for giving them a run for their money.
“Overall, I’m happy. It was our first (pre-season) friendly – we saw the difference in the second half and we created good chances to score more goals. It was a good game but a difficult one, Gor Mahia made it tough for us.
“They dropped their intensity a little bit in the second half and we were the better team with fresh players. They were a good team and made it hard for us to find our extra man in midfield,” the former Southampton FC head coach said.
“They can be proud of their performance and I want to give them a lot of compliments for making it so tough for us,” Koeman added.
The Dutchman also praised star striker Rooney terming his return to his boyhood team a boost in their bid to win trophies.
“(Rooney) is still one of the best in his position. He is a winner, who knows how to win titles and we want that. We spoke about more productivity for the strikers and you saw what he did today. He can be a key player,” the Dutch boss underscored.
Gor Head Coach Dylan Kerr said the friendly was a perfect moment for him to assess his new team.
“We displayed a different game in both halves. We were a better side in the first stanza containing them well. In the second half, we made changes that exposed us.
“I am pleased that, with a week in training, I have known the players so in the match I wanted to see more of their character and attitude. No changes will be expected in the squad. I basically want to build on what I have,” he said.
Gor arrived back to Kenya on Friday morning ahead of their SPL fixture away to Muhoroni Youth.