Football Football

Gor, Azam only a step away from glory

Gor forward Meddie Kagere, the scorer of the opening goal in 3-1 win over KMKM, celebrates netting at a past KPL match. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya
Gor forward Meddie Kagere, the scorer of the third goal in 3-1 win over Al-Khartoum, celebrates netting at a past KPL match. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

NAIROBI, July 31 –The glorious end to a painful 30-year wait for the Cecafa Kagame Cup title for Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions Gor Mahia beckons after they booked a final with local giants Azam FC on Friday.

Both clubs will chase history on Sunday with Gor out to tie Tanzanian titans, Simba SC at the top of the regional charts with their sixth crown with Azam, with the force of home advantage behind them, out to lift a first ever crown.

The runaway KPL leaders snuffed out the hopes of Sudan’s Al-Khartoum, another chasing a first title by outclassing them in a come-from-behind 3-1 victory.

The dust had hardly settled at the Dar-es-Salaam National Stadium when the Chamazi based monied Azam took to the same pitch for the second semi but had to huff and puff until securing a narrow 1-0 win late in the final half to down Kampala City Council.

-Poor start-

Gor fell behind after only two minutes through Amin Elmani but two quick fire goals from young striking sensation and tournament top scorer, Michael Olunga and Innocent Wafula turned the match on its head at the break 2-1 in favour of K’Ogalo.

Meddie Kagere sealed the win in the 55th minute when he tucked in Olunga’s rebound to send Gor to the regional finals for the first time since 1985.

“We are happy to be unbeaten and we are delighted to be in the finals. We were well organised and really disappointed by the early goal but it woke us up and were better today. It’s all about team work,” Gor head coach, Frank Nuttall said after the win.

His opposite number, Kwesi Appiah who led Ghana to the 2014 World Cup finals, was crestfallen with the loss, saying lack of concentration cost them.

“Today we didn’t play well; we just gave them the goals. We  dominated the game but the two quick goals dampened the spirits of the players. Gor is a good team and deserved the victory,” he conceded.

With the two sides meeting for the second time after a 1-1 draw in the Group stage, K’Ogalo went down early when unmarked Elmani found space to beat keeper, Boniface Oluoch from close range.

Kagere then saw his header rattle the cross bar at the quarter hour mark but Olunga made the amends seven minutes later when he converted from the spot following Elmani’s hand ball in the box.

Two minutes later, Wafula doubled the lead for his first of the championship, finishing emphatically inside the box.

Khartoum wasted the chance to pull level in the 36th when Ousmaila Baba failed to control the ball in the box after Harun Shakava miscued a header.

The Sudanese dominated the opening five minutes of the second half but K’Ogalo ended their resistance when Kagere mopped up after Olunga’s shot came back to the field of play.

Olunga who is leading the top scorer chart on five goals could have left with the match ball but rushed two presentable chances as the game ebbed out but it did not matter at the end since victory was already assured.

-Azam struggle-

The second semi had all hallmarks of a game of such magnitude with both sides electing not to give an inch as defences came on top.

With penalties looming, Farid Mussa settled the match and assured he would grab all local headlines when he finally broke Kampala’s resistance as the game entered its final quarter.

Gor who have already beaten a home side this term when they mowed local champions Yanga FC will hope to close their campaign by felling another Tanzanian giant to put the gross on what would be a memorable triumph.