NAIROBI, Kenya, June 8 – AFC Leopards came a goal down to beat arch rivals and league champions Gor Mahia 3-1 to grab ‘Mashemeji Derby’ bragging rights in an high octane game at Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium on Sunday that was devoid of chaos that have rocked previous encounters.
Unlike most occasions when the two domestic giants meet, the encounter witnessed no violence as the crestfallen losing Green Army peacefully joined their Ingwe ‘in-laws’ rivals to depart together from the stadium.
Timonah Wanyonyi opened the scoring for the hosts in the 24th before Jacob Keli levelled in the 35th as both sides shared the spoils at the break.
Charlse Okwemba extended the lead in the 60th before midfielder Bernard Mang’oli sealed the win 14 minutes later.
“I feel great after getting three points and beside we played good football than our opponents, the boys were mentally good and their concentration was on top.
“They scored the first goal and I saw where the mistakes and rectified immediately and that’s how we equalised and added the two goals.
“We emulated what we did in Sudan where we had a good run and considering it was a derby and my first league win I’m very impressed. We now focus on our next game in the top 8 against KCB then take one match at a time,” Leopards head coach Pieter De Jongh said after his Kenyan Premier League debut ended in victory in the biggest fixture in the land.
Deflated Gor coach Bobby Williamson offered, “We played well in the first half but we failed to make good use our chances, they got theirs and they made maximum use of it.
“I was disappointed with the second goal where we could have defended better so we are going to work on our defence which was not at its best in the second half.”
K’Ogalo who had gone six league matches unbeaten entered the match wounded after Tusker bundled them out of the Top 8 with Williamson making two changes bringing on Erick Ochieng for Anthony Akumu while George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo started for Kevin Omondi.
Playing at home in the presence of their supporters, Gor were strong in the first 20 minutes with Ugandan Israel Emuge heading Godfrey Walusimbi’s free-kick direct to keeper Wycliffe Kasaya after only six minutes of play.
Talisman Dan Sserunkuma combined well with Rama Salim and Wanyonyi but the Uganda Cranes forward saw his effort go directly to Kasaya’s arms.
On the other end Mang’oli could have broke the deadlock in the 16th after he beat three defenders but blasted wide in front of the goal.
Three minutes later captain Martin Imbalambala saw his indirect cracker spilled by keeper Jerim Onyango in the box with Keli bringing in a cross but Austin Ikenna missed the golden chance heading wide.
The first goal of the game finally came in the 24th when Sserunkuma had a good run from the left to cut in for Wanyonyi who had his sweet time to control the ball and half volleyed home for the opener.
The visitors could have levelled three minutes later when Keli brought in a cross from the left only for Ikenna to miss the header.
Last season’s KPL player of the year, Keli finally revived Ingwe fans when he fired the ball between Onyango’s legs from Okwemba’s through pass to level the scores.
K’Ogalo thought they were due a penalty when Odhiambo was hacked in the box but referee Rafael Nduati waved play on.
Wanyonyi and Walusimbi found no joy in set piece deliveries as Salim came close after receiving the ball from the latter only to see his effort hit the side netting as both sides shared the spoils at the break.
Leopards resumed a better side with Okwemba threatening through a long range shot that was rescued by Onyango .
Wanyonyi had a chance to put his side ahead after breaking through from the right but the attacking midfielder hurriedly took his shot that went wide as Gor was seeking relieve pressure.
At the hour mark Okwemba sneaked in a header past Onyango from an Abdalla Juma free-kick for the nsecond goal that saw only Ingwe chants being sang in the stadium.
Willamson brought on Kevin Omondi for Odhiambo in the 70th but it only took four minutes for Leopards to dim Gor’s hopes of a comeback when Mang’oli fired home for the third.
The Dutchman pulled out the Mang’oli for winger Paul Were while K’Ogalo introduced Herbert Kompany for Salim.
Gor had their last chance come in with three minutes to the final whistle through substitute Omondi who had a solo effort only for Kasaya to deny him as they held on to grab maximum points.