NAIROBI, Kenya, March 26- Champions Gor Mahia must be wondering what they need to do to win a football match after contriving to draw 1-1 against nine-man Tusker FC in a dramatic top Kenyan Premier League (KPL) match played at Nairobi’s Nyayo Stadium on Wednesday.
Teenage defender, Haron Shakava for K’Ogalo and forward Ismael Dunga from the spot, shared the goals either side of each half as the Brewers remained at the summit in a game that had it all.
Playing against nine men for over ten minutes when red mist descended on Ugandan Martin Kiiza and Lloyd Wahome in five manic second half minutes, referee Sylvester Kirwa getting both red cards right, Gor have no one else to blame for not making a statement of intent against a side tipped to dethrone them from their perch.
“We should have won the game especially when they went down to nine men, they lost their discipline. If we had got the second goal, the game would have been over.
“I don’t know how close the referee was to the penalty but he gave it and it cost us. I’m not happy about the refereeing,” Gor coach, Bobby Williamson, who was as dull as the overcast weather the match was played under said.
His opposite number, Francis Kimanzi, was as chirpy as Chelsea FC head coach, Jose Mourinho, a man he has been compared to in terms of tactical astuteness, as his side escaped their first major test in their title quest largely unscathed despite losing their discipline.
“It’s a good, game, I’m very satisfied! If I was the president of the team I would pay them double allowance for playing with nine and coming out of the point,” the former Harambee Stars tactician, sounding ‘Mourinho-esque’ quipped.
And deflecting questions about his side’s unruliness, Kimanzi again borrowed from the leaf of the Portuguese national in charge of the current English Premier League front runners.
“I hope the league is not going to be won in a stolen manner. A team must win games by possessing the game,” he added although he admitted Wahome deserved to go off for tackling Dan Sserunkuma from behind as the last man.
He had reservations for Kiiza’s red saying both players went for the ball although he sympathised with the bad injury suffered by Patrick Oboya, who had just come on as a substitute, who was stretcher-ed off the pitch.
The last act of rowdiness in the game that ignited after the second red saw George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo, on for Oboya; get into a tussle with former team mate, Ali Abondo, with the K’Ogalo winger given a yellow although Williamson claimed his player was punched.
The three incidents happened between the 74th and 80th minutes of the crunch encounter as both teams harried to wrest the initiative but in truth, Gor were the better side bossing possession, chances as well as nosing ahead.
K’Ogalo who needed a response after being stunned 2-0 at basement club Top Fry in Nakuru last weekend, started the game like a house on fire, with their ‘Daddy’ Kevin Omondi, rising to prominence from the off.
It took him seven minutes to send a wicked free-kick that brought the best out of Samuel Odhiambo in the Tusker goal and after missing another guilt-edged chance, Omondi came even closer to opening the scoring.
Gor, who were rampaging on both flanks, snapped the Tusker off-side trap with man-of-the-match, Shaban Kenga, freeing Omondi with an exquisite pass that he collected and chipped Odhiambo only for the ball to bounce back from the cross bar on 32 minutes.
The champions however, got the goal their play deserved when Chakava rose highest to head in three minutes to the breather from the second of successive corners and after Omondi spurned two further chances at the start of the second, Tusker delivered a sucker punch.
A lightening break fed Jesse Were in the box and Chakava turned to villain when he hauled him down, Kirwa blowing for the penalty that was dispatched with panache by Dunga to the right of Gor skipper, Jerim Onyango, who otherwise had little to do on 54 minutes.
The only other occasion either side came close to breaking the deadlock was when a deflected Kenga shot rebounded off the post and was hacked off the line by defender Jockins Atudo 18 minutes from full time.
By then, Gor were a man to the good before being given a better opportunity to capitalise but Tusker remained firm until the final whistle evoked mixed emotions on both camps.