A first half goal by George Odhiambo Blackberry was what Kogalo needed to win a crucial encounter against 3rd placed Ulinzi Warriors on Wednesday. The win confirms Gor Mahia’s return to winning ways. It is a crucial win because aside from narrowing the gap from league leaders Tusker to only two points, it also puts Gor Mahia six points ahead of Ulinzi who are now tied for third place with two other teams. And in a league that is increasingly tight, a win against other contenders is crucial. Gor Mahia also showed that they can grind out wins against teams like Ulinzi that resort to rough play to intimidate opponents.
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Both teams came into the game with a win in their previous games and were cautious not to get caught off guard with Blackberry getting himself into the referee’s book after a foul on Cylus Shitote in the 4th minute. Nine minutes later K’ogalo made their first attack of the game when Karim Nizigiyimana ran on the right flank to bring in a well crafted cross that found George Odhiambo who headed it over the bar. With 20 minutes gone, the KPL reigning champions were showing their dominance and they almost took the lead with Amos Nondi doing well to find George Odhiambo whose attempted shot at goal was blocked by Saruni. The game was temporarily halted after Enos Ochieng went down in pain after trying to tackle Abouba Sibomana before Ulinzi got a chance to take the lead after Brian Birgen found Mark Makwatta who saw his shot go into Boniface Oluoch’s gloves.
However, K’ogalo finally found a way to break Ulinzi’s defense when Karim-Abdul Nizigiyimana brought in a dangerous cross from the right that found Tuyisenge who stumbled as he tried to take the shot but George Odhiambo was at the right place at the right time to slot the ball home to make it two goals in two games for himself. Gor almost extended their lead in the 44th minute after Meddie Kagere took a shot at goal which Saruni was forced to push out for a corner, Nondi took it but but Tuyisenge headed it out with Enosh Ochieng getting a yellow card for bad mouthing.
The second half began with both teams attacking and tension began to rise with Tuyisenge being taken out for treatment after being fouled by Hassan Mohammed. On returning to the field, the Rwandese international was booked for kicking the ball after the referee after he was flagged for an offside position. The referee was forced to temporarily halt the game after Omar Mbogi and Meddie Kagere start exchanging harsh words and moments later, Hassan Mohammed got a red card after stepping on Tuyisenge in an off the ball incident. With one- man advantage, Gor started to pin the Soldiers in their own half threatening their defense. Tuyisenge was a victim again in the 65th minute when he went down after being pushed by Ulinzi players in the box as Walusimbi was preparing for a throw in which forced the game to be again temporarily halted as he received treatment.
Nondi was shown a yellow card after a foul on Geoffrey Kokoyo as The Soldiers made a double change; Mark Makwatta out, Stephen Waruru in; Samuel Onyango out, Hamisi Abdalla in and Jose Marcelo Fereirra followed suit; Amos Nondi out, Godfrey Walusimbi in. Ulinzi got a free kick at the edge of the box after Kagere was ruled to have handled the ball, Waruru took but it went to Oluoch’s gloves. Ulinzi had another change; Mark Bikokwa in, Enosh Ochieng out. With ten minutes left to play, Ulinzi began to fight back as they tried to make good use of their chances but Gor Mahia’s defense was proving a hard nut to crack. K’ ogalo then made another change; George Odhiambo out, Baron Oketch in. the hosts almost got a second in the dying minutes when Walusimbi did well to overlap on the right but his well taken chip to find his teammates was well prevented by Saruni.
Gor Mahia Staring XI:
23. Boniface Oluch, 5. Musa Mohamed, 14. Karim Nizigiyimana, 18. Haron Shakava, 3. Abouba Sibomana, 20. Ernest wendo, 8. Francis Kahata, 11. Amos Nondi [2. Godfrey Walusimbi] 22. Meddie Kagere, 25. George Odhiambo [17. Baron Oketch], 9. Jacques Tuyisenge
1. Jerim Onyango, 4. Wellington Ochieng, 13. Anthony Mbugua, 27. Jacob Keli, 24. Enock Agwanda.
James Saruni, Mbogi Omar, Shitote Cylus, Kokoyo Geoffrey, Hassan Mohammed, Onyango Boniface, Brian Birgen, Kago John, Ocheing Enosh [Bikokwa Mark
], Makwatta John [Waruru Stephen], Onyango Samuel [Hamisi Abdalla]
Odhiambo Jacktone,Sande Benson, Nandwa Elvis, Waweru Daniel