NAIROBI, Kenya, November 17- Holders Gor Mahia sailed through to the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Cup after a nervy 2-1 win over archrivals AFC Leopards at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on Saturday.
The Green Army burst into song at the 60,000-seater sporting cathedral when Kevin Omondi in the first and captain Moses Odhiambo in the second half gave Zradvko Logarusic’s K’Ogalo the edge after Charles Okwemba halved the deficit with ten minutes to go.
Gor await the winner of the other semi between league champions Tusker and Sofapaka whom they dethroned as FKF Cup champions at the same venue on Sunday to compete for the trophy on Tuesday.
In truth, Leopards who dominated the game and created the lion share of chances have themselves to blame for falling to their archrivals for the second time this season at the same stadium with an identical score line.
With both teams smarting from losing the league to Tusker FC last weekend, particularly Gor who held the advantage ahead of the final day, the 100th Shemeji (In-law) derby assumed the role of providing both sets of supporters with the right tonic from the distress.
Leopards looked the hungrier of the two with strikers Allan Wanga and Mike Baraza putting Gor on the back burner and it was with consternation for them and against the run of play when Gor took the lead in the 12th minute.
Kevin Omondi lashed on to an Edwin Lavatsa threaded ball to stroke it almost apologetically to the bottom left hand corner of Patrick Matasi’s net to give K’Ogalo the lead.
Ingwe turned on the pressure to level and Gor were relieved to go into the break a goal to the good having seen their rivals continue to create and spurn scoring opportunities.
Seven minutes after the break, the stadium was left stunned when Gor extended their lead through their skipper Odhiambo who tucked in the ball following a swift breakaway from an Ivan Mapunda long clearance in the K’Ogalo goal.
Lavasta then wasted the opportunity to bury the profligate Leopards when he hit the crossbar with Matasi, who had another shaky game in the Ingwe goal was caught in no-mans-land.
A composed finish from Okwemba ten minutes to go hauled Leopards to the game and with over five minutes added after full-time, the game was on a knife-edge before the Green Army finally rose to celebrate an unmerited win.
“If Leopards had won the game, they would have deserved it and they had so many chances but did not score and when we scored two goals, it gave them a big problem.
“As a coach, I make right decisions sometimes and wrong decisions sometimes but today, I made the right ones,” Logarusic conceded the fact that his side had been outplayed post-match.
“We were the best side in the game but we made two bad blunders and lost the game. They only had five attacks and two goals and the concentration in my team is not always 100 percent.
“We have to look for recruitment and get new players because we are playing good football but the concentration in some moments is not there,” AFC Leopards Dutch coach Jan Koops lamented.
He divulged he would make a clear-out in his side to revamp them after coming close to winning the league and cup double.
Victory for Tusker in the other semi will see K’Ogalo earn Kenya’s berth in the CAF Confederations Cup.