NAIROBI, JULY 18 – Kenyan Premier League champions, Gor Mahia came from a goal down to silence hosts and 10-man Young Africans of Tanzania 2-1, to launch their Cecafa Kagame Cup campaign with a bang on Saturday.
Gor stunned the hosts at a near capacity National Stadium to crush the spirits of the home side as fans of archrivals Simba SC, who were rooting for K’Ogalo, joined the handful of the Green Army to celebrate the result.
Liberian defender, Dikir Glay’s fifth minute own goal gave K’Ogalo a nightmare start to their hunt for a sixth Cecafa title but Harun Shakava hauled the Kenyan record national champions level when he nodded home the equaliser at the quarter hour mark.
Youngster Michael Olunga who has plunged in 11 goals in the domestic top flight where Gor are unbeaten, scored the winner moments after the restart to send his side top of Group A on three points same as Zanzibar’s KMKM who beat Djibouti’s Telcom 1-0 in the other clash.
The hosts who were favourites, failed to crow at home in a match where instrumental Donald Ngoma was set off in the 23rd minute before skipper Nadir Haroub missed a late penalty kick that could have forced a draw.
Gor head coach, Frank Nuttall made changes to his preferred starting line-up with Glay coming on for injured midfielder Collins Okoth while Ali Abondo was relegated to the bench for Innocent Wafula.
Yanga who entered the match at the back of a 3-0 win over Police Combined in a warm up match dominated the opening 15 minutes but it was the visitors who could have secured the early lead in the third minute when Olunga, who did well to intercept a pass in the box, saw his shot blocked by defenders.
Two minutes later, Glay gifted Yanga the lead when his poor clearance from Ngoma’s cross from the right beat his keeper, Boniface Oluoch who had come off the line.
The goal motivated the hosts in the ill tempered match that saw Ngoma pick his first yellow card for retaliation on Abuoba Sibomana.
Wafula failed to rise to occasion when he was put through by Olunga with the winger’s poor finish giving, Ally Mustafa an easy save in the 13th.
Yanga defender, Juma Abdul eascaped booking when he brought down Godfrey Walusimbi but the resultant free-kick yielded fruit after Shakava rose high to head home the leveller from a Karim Niizigiyimana delivery.
Olunga then saw his poor pass in the box fail to get to Meddie Kagere who was waiting to slot home before Ngoma was sent off for a second bookable offence when he retaliated on Shakava who had done well to shield the ball as it rolled out of play.
Ngoma’s red card was a sigh of relief to Gor’s defence led by captain Musa Mohammed since the winger had given them a torrid time with his quick runs on the right.
The visitors settled in the game with Olunga missing the target by inches from a good build-up from the left orchestrated by Sibomana and Walusimbi but the hosts still threatened to as Oluoch tipped over a free-kick at the half hour mark from Abdoul.
Olunga had a penalty appeal turned down before he was denied by the woodwork after finding space to shoot from range on the stroke of half-time.
K’Ogalo improved significantly after the break with Olunga finally hitting the target in the 47th minute from a solo effort when he beat two defenders to smash past the keeper with his weaker right foot to send the handful Green Army into frenzy.
The hosts had a chance to pick a point after Shakava handled Amisi Tambwe’s strike in the box but captain Haroub saw his cleverly chipped penalty saved by Oluoch who did well to recover and easily stop the ball with his right hand.
The last chance for Gor that could have hammered the final nail on the coffin saw Kagere waste, when he went for glory as substitute Enoch Agwanda was waiting to tap home.
K’Ogalo will next face KMKM on Monday in their second group fixture.