NAIROBI, July 28 – Wasteful Gor Mahia survived a second half scare to punch their Cecafa Kagame Cup semi final ticket in a 2-1 win over battling Malakia from South Sudan on Tuesday at Dar-es-Salaam National Stadium.
Uganda utility man Godfrey Walusimbi was the hero for the Kenyan Premier League champions with his brace enough to send K’Ogalo two steps closer to a first regional title in 30 years.
However, Gor almost paid dearly for missing a basketful of chances particularly in the first half when they would have been out of sight inside the opening 20 minutes leaving head coach, Frank Nutall, ruing his side profligacy in front of goal.
The Cranes left back netted in the second and 27 minutes before Jacob Mathew pulled one back in the 64th in a match Gor would have simply ran rampant.
“We are happy to qualify to the semi-final. We created a lot of chances in the first-half that could have seen us seal the win early but unfortunately we failed to convert. We knew it will not be easy and I congratulate Malakia for showing a great fighting spirit.
“Going to the semi, we need to be more composed in the box but we will approach it differently,” the visibly relieved Nuttall said after the win.
Walusimbi returned from injury with a bang to find the opener after only 180 seconds of play when he tapped in a Michael Olunga cross in the box that was skewed to his path by forward Meddie Kagere.
Collins Okoth, Olunga twice and Kagere took turns to miss the target from close range as rampant Gor almost wrapped their semi-final place inside quarter of an hour.
Mathew almost made them pay in the 26th when his bullet header thumped the right post with keeper Boniface Oluoch well beaten but within 60 seconds; K’Ogalo moved up field and got their second through Walusimbi.
Kagere tore up the right and his cross did not look dangerous until the covering defender slipped in the box to present the Ugandan with an open goal to double the lead with a neat finish for a 2-0 half time lead.
Malakia pulled one back when Mathew finally hit the target with a free header from a long throw in by Kenyan Wesley Onguso in the 64th following Gor’s questionable defending from set play.
Olunga who was man marked by Yengo Ngum throughout the match found space after overpowering the defender to unleash a thunderbolt from the right but was denied by the cross bar for the second time.
Nuttall pulled out Kagere for George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo while Abondo came in for Olunga in search of more goals but the 2010 KPL Player of the Year failed to swallow his chance when he directed a guilt edged opportunity wide.
Innocent Wafula who came on for Eric Ochieng missed two opportunities to kill off the game ten minutes to the final whistle but K’Ogalo held on in the tense final moments for the win that saw them book a semi-final clash against the winner of Uganda’s KCCA or Sudan’s Al-Ahly Shendi.
-Al- Khartoum soar-
Sudan’s Al-Khartoum were the first side to advance to the last eight after demolishing last year’s beaten finalists APR of Rwanda 4-0 in the early kick-off.
Ibrahim Elmani grabbed a brace while Khalid Eltayeb and Salah Billal scored a piece to complete the rout for a Khartoum side that has most goals so far.
Head coach, Kwesi Appiah hailed his charges for sticking to his tactics game plan that saw them bounce back from a 1-0 loss against hosts Young Africa in their final preliminary match.
“Our tactical approach was not to allow them play and I’m happy my boys did that very well. Once they got the early goal, it raised their confidence and felt comfortable throughout the match. We are taking a game at a time,” Appiah, the 2014 World Cup Ghana boss stated.
The Tanzania derby of Yanga and Azam FC will be the highlight fixture Wednesday right after Sudan’s Al-Ahly Shendi and Kampala CCA battle to complete the semi final line-up.