NAIROBI, Kenya, March 28- As the saying goes once bitten twice shy, but that phrase did not apply when defending champions Gor Mahia took on former titleholders Tusker FC in a bruising mid-week Kenyan Premier League (KPL) contest that ended in a 1-1 stalemate.
Despite promising the Green Army to bounce back from a 2-0 loss to bottom placed Top Fry Nakuru, Gor coach Bobby Williamson, failed to take advantage of playing against nine men with 12 minutes to full time after Martin Kiiza and utility defender Lloyd Wahome were given marching orders.
The result gave Francis Kimanzi’s charges the bragging rights over 13 times champions after winning two and drawing three in their last five meetings with K’Ogalo.
Since taking over the team late last season from Robert Matano, the former Harambee Stars tactician has gone six matches unbeaten and Wednesday’s match showed his experience when he calmly guided his charges to play on two men down.
His style of play seems to be working pretty well having a depth of quality players in all positions with his charges building up from the back, something that exposed K’Ogalo’s midfield that missed the injured Athony Okumu.
The Brewer’s strong center led by Brian Osumba, Khalid Aucho and Andrew Tololwa combined well with Jese Were, Ismael Dunga and Robert Omunuk in the front while the absence of Wahome at the back in the saw Osborne Monday and Jockins Atudo stand tall to deny Gor victory.
After the match Kimanzi said, “I’m very happy with players they gave it their all. I did not feel the pressure since they transformed what I teach them in practice and furthermore that was a plus to us since we were away with two men down.
“We usually train like we are competing and when we are in a match we play like we in training and it really worked since even during practice when a player gets injured we play few.
“The players were very calm and the mentality was high it showed we can fight when need be but I was not happy with Wahome who over reacted. He failed to handle the pressure and forgot there are rules because calculating the red cards picked which they could handle since they are experienced players but it’s normal in football,” Kimanzi stated after the match.
He added, “If we carry this morale to Muhoroni, I will be happy though we will approach it with another plan because playing against the champions is different compared to them since its usually tough even if they are not on top form.
“We are still in the title race and being at the top at the moment is a very good thing since it means we are also contenders.”
This was one of the toughest matches the two have encountered with the referee Sylvester Kirwa becoming the first official to flash out five yellow and two red cards in a single match.
Gor are to blame themselves after creating a number of chances in the first half through Kevin Omondi, who missed to convert them even before Haron Shakava could give them the opener.
Williamson could not change the game as he watched helplessly from the touchline his troops play long balls that did not work since most of their forwards Dan Sserunkuma, Rama Salim, Shaban Kenga and George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo are short.
“We had a better team since we created chances and our keeper Jerim Onyango, had many saves but I was disappointed with the referee who awarded them a penalty that wasn’t because he even didn’t run behind it but pointed from a distance.
“We are also to blame for not utilizing the opportunity when they were two men down. I think it’s because some of the players are not used playing together and their fitness was low.
“We are still competing in the league and our main aim is to defend the title and we are determined to come back at the top.
“It’s disappointing we had to play here today yet we have been training at City the entire week, if we knew we were to play here we could have prepared to play on the grass,” Williamson stated.