Image courtesy of Bush Koyla Nyang
Gor Mahia hammered Tusker 2-0 in what can only be characterized as one of the most important wins of 2017. At the start of the week, Kogalo were nine points ahead of Tusker. Then came a high court ruling that nullified results against Nakumatt and Zoo Kericho. Based on this ruling, Gor Mahia’s leaf over Tusker was now only six points. It was therefore critical for Kogalo to beat Tusker on Saturday. That they did, winning 2-0 with goals from Meddie Kagere and George Odhiambo Blackberry.
Additional Reporting from Sportpesa news
Gor Mahia FC all but sealed the 2017 SportPesa Premier League (SPL) title when they beat champions Tusker FC 2-0 in a water-logged Kericho Green Stadium on Saturday.
Elsewhere, Kakamega Homeboyz FC did Gor a huge favour by sinking their closest challengers, Sofapaka FC 2-1 while stuttering Posta Rangers FC were forced to yet another stalemate when relegation-threatened Thika United FC rallied for a 1-1 draw.
Victory against the side that dethroned them from the crown last season saw Gor who are bidding to extend their SPL title record to 16 stretch their tally to 54 points, a yawning 15 ahead of the Brewers whose latest resurgence was halted on its tracks.
Meddie Kagere opened the scoring for K’Ogalo in the 19th minute before in form George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo put the result beyond doubt in the 56th in a symbolic result that signified the passing of the mantle from the Ruaraka-based Tusker to the team that has won it 15 times in their glittering history.
It was a welcome return to pitch action after Kericho Green official residents. Zoo Kericho FC and fellow top-flight first timers, Nakumatt FC were suspended from the competition on Friday after the High Court in Nairobi ruled against the 18-team SPL.
Football Kenya Federation is set to appeal the verdict delivered by Justice John Mativo at the Court of Appeal and pending the outcome of the legal process, possible intervention of world governing body, FIFA as well as the redistribution of points won against Zoo and Nakumatt if the challenge fails means Gor could wait a while before uncorking the champagne.
Tusker lined up David Okello between the sticks while Lloyd Wahome and Eugene Asike operated at the back while Collins Shivachi and James Situma were charged with providing ammunition from the right and left full back positions.
Ugandan import, Hashim Sempala was tasked with the donkey work at the middle of the park in partnership with Humphrey Mieno. Allan Wanga completed a 4-3-3 formation that also had Paul Odhiambo and Danson Kago upfront.
Gor boss, Dylan Kerr, made two changes to the team that battled to a goalless draw with Thika last weekend with Francis Kahata and Jacques Tuyisenge starting in place of Philemon Otieno and Timothy Otieno.
Boniface Oluoch kept his place in goal with skipper Musa Mohammed marshalling the defence.
Gor, playing a league match for the first time at the venue, started on a sound by pinning Tusker in their own half as heavy rains pounded Kericho.
Collins Shivachi came to the Brewers rescue in the eighth minute when he cleared a goal bound shot but the reprieve was short lived when Kagere put dominant Gor to the lead.
In an effort to take advantage of the slippery conditions, Sempala unleashed a long-range shot in the 21st hoping to catch Oluoch out but the effort sailed over before Mieno came closer in the 34th but his finish from close range skewed wide.
Tusker were dealt an injury blow a minute to the break after Odhiambo was withdrawn due to injury with George ‘Best’ Nsimbe bringing on Ghanaian forward Stephen Owusu in his place.
Gor dominated the first half but Tusker came back a rejuvenated side at the restart but their momentum was cut short when Odhiambo buried a set piece from the edge of the box when Tuyisenge was fouled.
The match petered out as a contest following the second goal until when Kagere drove down the midfield to put through compatriot Tuyisenge but the latter was denied by a hawk-eyed Okello.
Boniface Muchiri almost halved the deficit but his free kick from the edge of the box fizzled narrowly wide.
Nsimbe sent in Michael Khamati for Jackson Macharia before Kerr sought to bolt the back by bringing on two defensive midfielders in Jean Baptiste Mugiraneza and Philemon Otieno for Odhiambo and Kenneth Muguna.
The rain finally stopped with 11 minutes from full time but the fog did not lift from Tusker as they surrendered to defeat.
Gershon Likonoh opened the scoring for Rangers at Ruaraka Grounds when he turned in a trademark long throw in from Luke Ochieng only for Suleiman Ngotho to level matters a minute later for Thika mid first half as the home side stretched their wretched run without victory to nine.
At the Mumias Sports Complex, danger man Umaru Kasumba continued his hot streak in the SPL when he put Sofapaka ahead only for their former servant, Wycliffe Opondo, to equalise for Homeboyz as the sides went in for the break at 1-1.
Jeremiah Wanjala, who is also on a rich vein of form, settled the game when he notched the winner in the 53rd as the winners consolidated third.
Saturday’s SPL results left Gor 12 clear of Sofapaka (42), the same tally with Homeboyz with Kariobangi Sharks FC (39) leading the chasing pack in fourth.