Gor Mahia started their 2019-2020 cup campaign by narrowly escaping lower tier team, Naivas. Naivas twice took the lead before Gor Mahia equalized and then scored a 89th minute winner to win 3-2. Had the match gone to penalties, anything would have happened.
Additional reporting from the Nation
Bonface Omondi scored late as Gor Mahia rallied from behind to beat Naivas 3-2 to advance to round 16 of the Betway Cup Sunday.
The 18-times Kenyan Premier League champions were made to sweat by the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Division One side in the domestic cup match at Moi International Sports Center, Kasarani.
Omondi scored Gor’s winning goal in the 89th minute after Dickson Ambundo and Lawrence Juma had twice levelled the score for the league champions.
Kinglesy Owuor and Rashid Hassan scored for Naivas in the entertaining match.
“Getting this win was not easy. Our experience is what won it for us because the boys were calm despite trailing and in the last quarter, we pushed a lot and got the victory,” said Gor’s assistant coach Patrick Odhiambo.
Naivas coach George Maina said: “My boys worked so hard, lack of concentration is what denied us the win. Playing Gor Mahia was an honour, we feel we have gains some experience that will help us perform better in the league.”
Gor almost took a deserved lead in the third minute when Juma Balinya’s connected to a volley across from the left, his header going over the crossbar.
Moments later, Naivas striker John Kelwish had an open chance to punish the KPL side for the miss, but he was disposed early.
The latter was on the hunt again in the 11th minute, this time goalkeeper Fredrick Odhiambo denying him.
Naivas took the lead a minute later from the spot through Owuor after Newton Mugo was fouled inside the box.
But the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Division One side almost surrendered the lead immediately as Balinya’s shot from a counter-attack was cleared on the line.
Omondi was unlucky as his two successive efforts after the 31st minute blazed wide, leaving the sizeable K’Ogalo fans at the stadium in disappointment .
Ambundo levelled the score for Gor with a stunning goal in the 40th minute. Goalkeeper Rajab Chai, who looked to have been caught by suprise by the long-range drive, did not move in an attempt to block it.
One minute later, Naivas restored their lead with another stunning goal by Rashid Hassan. After winning the ball outside the box, the latter curved a shot to the far right side of goalpost beyond goalkeeper Odhiambo’s reach.
Looking to remain in the competition, Polack made a double substitution at the restart, introducing Samuel Onyango and Clifton Miheso for Balinya and Ambundo respectively.
Gor survived a scare in the 59th minute after goalkeeper Odhiambo dived well to deny Kelwish from a one-on-one situation.
Lawrence Juma brought the matter to parity in the 66th minute with another beautiful goal, turning turned well outside the box to beat goalkeeper Chai with a powerful low shot.
The equaliser set up a nervy encounter in the last 20 minutes as the two sides fought for the ticket to round 16.
Omondi thought he had given Gor the advantage over their opponents in the 83rd minute, but the goal was cancelled for offside.
Goalkeeper Chai thereafter made three successive saves to deny Gor, who had camped in his area, hunting for the winning goal.
Omondi struck in the 89th minute as Gor advanced to the round 16 of the competition, whose winner will pocket Sh 2million.