NAIROBI, Kenya, June 4 – Jesse Were came on from the bench to score the winning goal that sent defending champions Tusker FC to the KPL Top 8 final after eliminating league champions Gor Mahia 2-1 on aggregate on Wednesday.
The brewers came from a goal down to hold K’Ogalo 1-1 through Were who netted the equaliser in the 54th minute after Rama Salim gave Gor the lead and hope of crawling back a 1-0 deficit from the first leg after three minutes at Nairobi’s City Stadium.
The win saw Francis Kimanzi charges repeat last season’s performance of dumping Gor out at the same stage of the competition.
Williamson who missed the first leg after he was bereaved, made three changes to the squad from the first leg starting with Israel Emuge in defence, Shaban Kenga and Timonah Wanyonyi for Harun Shakava, Kevin Omondi and Eric Ochieng.
On the other side, Kimanzi kept faith in his winning squad from Meru, making no change.
The hosts showed intent from kick-off forcing Harambee Stars defender Jockins Atudo to clear danger in the opening exchanges, denying Wanyonyi a open chance on goal.
The Brewers could not sustain to the pressure and they were punished in the third minute through Salim who half volleyed home Godfrey Walusimbi’s cross for his second Top 8 goal.
Midfielder Anthony Akumu who was playing his last match for K’Ogalo after securing a six-month loan move to Khartoum National FC could have exited in style but keeper Samuel Odhiambo rescued his long range shot.
The hosts had a chance to double in the 19th, when Salim combined with talisman Dan Sserunkuma but the latter could not find the back of the net as Odhiambo reacted swiftly to clear the danger with his left foot.
The visitors’ lone chance in the first half came in the 23rd after a poor clearance from Emuge as Brian Osumba pounced on the ball only to be denied by the woodwork.
Geoffrey Kizito could have send Gor 2-0 up at the break but the Uganda Cranes midfielder failed to take advantage of Stars left back Aboud Omar’s poor clearance on the stroke of half time to blaze over the bar.
Kimanzi charges resumed seeking for the away goal and it was Gor who attacked first in the 50th through Sserunkuma who brought in a cross from the right that went begging in front of Tusker’s goal with no one to tap home.
Four minutes later, the former Harambee stars tactician introduced Jesse Were for Andrew Tololwa and his first touch turned things round when he fired home the equaliser from Clifford Alwanga’s pass.
In the 56th, Were could have notched his brace after Alwanga set him through, going on to beat keeper Jerim Onyango but Musa Mohammed cleared off the line.
Williamson did a double substitution, bringing on George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo and Herbert Kopany for Wanyonyi and Sserunkuma but the two failed to inspire the comeback.
Osborn Monday saw his shot from an acute angle saved by Onyango in the 83rd as Brewers held on to qualify for the finals.
Tusker will face either AFC Leopards or KCB who play their return leg semi-finals with the Bankers enjoying the away goal advantage after the first leg ended 1-1.