Gor Mahia kept their 2018 KPL title chase on course when they beat newcomers Wazito 1-0 at Machakos on Wednesday.
Additional Reporting from the Nation
Jacques Tuyisenge came off the bench to score the winner as champions Gor Mahia laboured to beat Wazito 1-0 in a midweek Kenyan Premier League (KPL) match staged at a slippery Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos.
Just nine minutes after coming on for Lawrence Juma, the Rwandan striker sent the handful of fans who bothered to turn up for the match into a frenzy with a 73rd minute header from a Cersidy Okeyo free kick.
The win sees Gor move to 22 points, one shy of leaders Mathare United albeit with two games in hand. Wazito remain 12th on 11 points after nine games.
Gor tactician Dylan Kerr retained only Humphrey Mieno and Meddie Kagere in his starting lineup from the team that beat SuperSport United 1-0 in the Caf Confederation Cup play-off, first leg match on Sunday.
“Congratulations to Gor Mahia, hard luck to my boys, we go back to prepare for the next game,” Wazito coach Frank Ouna said after the match.
“The plan was to lock out Gor’s attacks but you need maximum concentration, any slip up costs you and it did today but we shall rectify the weaknesses.”
Despite claiming his seventh win in eight games, Kerr wasn’t pleased with the display.
“It’s still a crime we can’t utilise our chances. We had the possession, fought hard but missed golden opportunities. The field was slippery because of the rain, yes, but little basics would have seen us put the ball behind the net several times,” he said.
Mieno surprisingly played as a makeshift centre-back while Kagere was handed the captain’s armband in the absence of Harun Shakava.
K’Ogalo created a host scoring opportunities in the first half but the striking partnership of Kagere and Ephrem Guikan let them down.
Wazito’s Patience Lukige had his volley picked by Gor custodian Shaban Odhoji in the 10th minute and six minutes later, Lawrence Juma’s free kick was easily collected by Phillip Odhiambo after Harun Nyakha had fouled Kevin ‘Ade’ Omondi 20 yards out.
Guikan set up Kagere with a beautiful backheel on 26 minutes but the Rwandan striker’s attempt narrowly missed the target.
A minute to the half hour mark, Samuel Onyango outpaced his markers, delivered a pinpoint cross that Bernard Ondiek headed over the bar.
HIT THE BAR
Kagere was denied by the woodwork at the stroke of halftime as the champions pushed for the opener.
Wazito defenders led by Odhiambo Ricky did well to stop Onyango’s attempt to connect a dangerous Lawrence Juma cross a minute to the hour mark as Gor continued with the onslaught.
Wazito coach frank Ouna introduced Ibrahim Mao for Joakim Omollo in the 62nd minute but Kerr reacted two minutes later by throwing into the fray Tuyisenge for Juma as Kevin Omondi paved way for Boniface Omondi.
George Owiti replaced the jaded Joe Waithira with 15 minutes to time as Raphael Asudi had his debut though for five minutes, coming on for Samuel Onyango.
Boniface Omondi’s long range effort ricocheted off the bar on 88 minutes with the goalkeeper well beaten.
Wazito visit Chemelil Sugar on Sunday while Gor await their Caf Confederation Cup return leg match against SuperSport United in Pretoria next week.