NAIROBI, June 20 – No wonder his is fast becoming a sensation in Tanzania! Youngster Michael Olunga notched a braceas Gor Mahia put one foot in the Cecafa Kagame Cup quarter-finals after trouncing Zanzibar’s KMKM 3-1 at Dar-es -Salaam National Stadium on Monday.
Strike partner, Meddie Kagere gave K’Ogalo a dream start after only two minutes with the opener but the lead lasted for only nine minutes when Mateo Saimon pulled the sides level in a tactically absorbing Group A clash.
Olunga then stole the headlines in the second half when he doubled the lead in the 69th before completing his double 10 minutes to full time for his third goal of the tournament.
The Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions who grew in stature as the match progressed, forcing their opponents deeper in the second half now need a draw against former Ghana head coach, Kwesi Appiah’s Al Khartoum of Sudan to book ticket in the last eight.
Earlier, the Sudanese all but ended Djibouti’s Telcom hopes when they drubbed them 5-0 to inflict their second defeat here.
“It was like a final game because both had three points. The first-half was tough because we scored early according to the coach’s instruction but they equalised immediately so we had to change to change tactics and approach second half with another option,” Olunga, who was deservedly named man-of -the match said after the contest was over.
With both sides entering the clash with wins picked in their openers, Gor head coach, Frank Nuttal, made two changes from the squad that beat hosts Young Africans 2-1; resting defender, Dikir Glay and Innocent Wafula for Ali Abondo and Ronald Omino.
Kagere’s early strike came from a Olunga cut in from the left after good build-up play in midfield by Ugandan Khalid Aucho.
KMKM nearly restored parity three minutes later when Saimoni hit the side netting from Nassour Omar cross but he made amends moments later when he beat Gor’s poorly organised rearguard to head past Boniface Oluoch from a Juma Mbwana corner.
The Isalanders took charge of the game, dominating possession for the better part of the first-half.
Mbwana missed a glorious chance on the stroke of half-time to give them a half-time advantage when he failed to beat Oluoch in a one-on-one as the keeper rushed out of his line to nick the ball as he tried to round him and place in an unguarded net.
Gor returned the more determined of the two, forcing shot-stopper, Nassour Abdoulla pull a breathtaking triple save.
He first clawed out Abuoba Sibomana set-piece before saving Kagere’s shot on the rebound and denied Harun Shakava by getting his hand to the ball as he prepared to head it in from close range.
After coming close in the 60th, Olunga finally got his goal when he placed a glancing header that bobbled to the net after connecting from a Karim Niizigiyimana cross for 2-1 K’Ogalo.
The 21-year-old who was growing in prominence then rattled the woodwork two minutes later but he did not have to wait for much longer to enhance his glowing reputation in Tanzania when he scored a truly poacher’s goal for the third.
Substitute Enock Agwanda sent in a long throw in that caught the KMKM defence flat-footed and the lanky striker killed the ball with a deft touch before sending the ball across the keeper for a smooth finish.
In the early-kick off, former Gor midfielder, Anthony Akumu’s Al Khartoum thrashed Telcom of Djibouti 5-0 to sit second in Group A on three points, having a game less.
K’Ogalo next face Al Khartoum on Wednesday.