Gor Mahia scored a crucial victory over arch rivals AFC Leopards at Kasarani on Sunday. Crucial because it keeps Gor Mahia’s march towards the 2019-2020 KPL title on course. And also crucial because a win over the arch rival is the most important victory of the season. The all important goal came via Boniface Omondi in the 27th minute.
Additional reporting from the Nation
Boniface Omondi scored the winner for K’Ogalo in the 27th minute to ensure the team completes a double over Ingwe having won the first leg encounter 4-1.
Gor Mahia has now beaten AFC Leopards 29 times in the league. With the win, the league champions stretch their lead at the top of the table to 54 points from 23 games, while AFC Leopards is sixth with 40 points, having played the same number of matches.
A Gor Mahia fan cheers his team during the
A Gor Mahia fan cheers his team during the Mashemeji Derby at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on March 8, 2020. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |
Despite the win solidifying Gor Mahia’s lead at the top, coach Steven Pollack said the title race is far from over.
“One win doesn’t mean we have won the league. We still have more games left and have to work hard in the remaining games. However, I am very proud of my boys, they did well to contain the pressure especially in the second half,” he said after the match.
“AFC Leopards however have improved so much and I think their coach has done a good job – kudos to him. They fought hard especially in the second half and I am very happy to have won the game,” he added.
uizaIngwe coach Anthony Kimani rued his side’s missed chances.
“We missed a couple of very good chances in both halves, while Gor Mahia utilised one of theirs. However, I’m proud of my boys, they showed character and a good fighting spirit,” he said.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, attending his first ever Kenyan Premier League match, waved at the cheering crowd as the referee blew the whistle to kick off the 88th ‘Mashemeji Derby’ He was accompanied by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, former Vice President Musalia Mudavadi and Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed.
AFC Leopards were evidently the better side from the onset and missed a couple of good goal scoring chances, Elvis Rupia was twice denied by Gor Mahia custodian Boniface Oluoch.
Gor Mahia grew in the game and got their first real chance in the 21st minute, captain Kenneth Muguna’s shot from outside the box flying just inches wide. Muguna was at if at again five minutes later with a clever header after a quick cross by Jackson Owusu, but Ingwe custodian Benjamin Ochan averted the danger.
K’Ogalo opened the scoring through Boniface Omondi in the 27th minute. He capitalised on a goalmouth melee after an inviting cross by Clifton Miheso to slot in.
Nicholas Kipkirui missed a seater just before the break, blasting his effort wide with just Ochan to beat as the game went to the break with Gor Mahia on the front foot.
On resumption, Ingwe brought in Boniface Mukhekhe for the ineffective Jaffary Odenyi. Ingwe won a free kick just outside the box in the 51st minute after Austine Odhiambo was fouled by Charles Momanyi, but Washington Munene’s resultant free kick was easily handled by Gor Mahia keeper Boniface Oluoch.
Clifton Miheso forced Benjamin Ochan to a finger tip save five minutes later as both sides continued their hunt for goals. Miheso was minutes later rested, former Ulinzi Stars forward Sammy Onyango taking his place.
Rupia missed a golden opportunity to equalise with only an empty net to tap in to after Boniface Mukhekhe released an inviting cut back into the box that found the Gor Mahia defenders napping.
Gor Mahia brought in Juma Balinya for Nicholas Kipkirui in the 70th minute as they continued to dominate the proceedings.
Two minutes later, Ingwe forward Vincent Oburu failed to connect to an in swinger by the impressive Mukhekhe. Oburu was then taken off, former Kariobangi Sharks and Vihiga United forward Francis Manoah taking his place.
With 10 minutes to go, Gor Mahia brought in Ernest Wendo to steady the ship in midfield, taking the place of goalscorer Boniface Omondi, who had put in a good shift by all standards.
AFC Leopards rested Saad Tsuma, bringing in former Nzoia Sugar forward Hansel Ochieng. Collins Shivachi cleared Juma Balinya’s shot from the line in the 83rd minute as Gor continued to press for a second goal.