Football Football

So near, so far for Gor in Azam heartache

Gor Mahia striker, Michael Olunga, in action against Azam during the Cecafa Kagame Cup final in Dar on Sunday. PHOTO/Citizen TV
Gor Mahia midfielder, Khalid Aucho, in action against Azam during the Cecafa Kagame Cup final in Dar on Sunday. PHOTO/Citizen TV

NAIROBI, August 2 –Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia’s wait to lift a Cecafa Kagame Cup title will stretch to 31years after locals Azam FC ended their dream with a heartbreaking 2-0 victory in a pulsating final on Sunday.

A goal from each half through Taifa Stars forward John Bocco and Ivorian Kipre Tche Tche ended K’Ogalo’s aim of lifting a sixth regional title that could have seen them equal Tanzanian giants Simba SC at the top of the charts at Dar-es-Salaam National Stadium.

However, Gor walked out with their heads high after reaching the finals for the first time in three decades to receive Sh. 2.4m (USD20, 000) in prize money, with ODM bigwigs, former Prime Minister, Raila Odinga and Mombasa Governor, Ali Hassan Joho joining hundreds of Green Army fans who made the trip.

Azam, the new home for Harambee Stars striker, Allan Wanga won the title for the first time to became a third Tanzanian side to lift the trophy and pocket Sh3.7m (USD30, 000).

Uganda’s Kampala Capital City Authority finished third after edging out Sudan’s Al-Khartoum 2-1 to take home Sh1.2m (USD10,000).

Rising star, Michael Olunga grabbed the Golden Boot after plunging five goals in the tournament, one ahead of Tche Tche.

“We gave possession away for the first goal and the second was also from our mistake but we made a good final. I’m proud of my boys for their efforts so we had a good tournament.

“Azam were clinical and all credit to them they were brilliant today and i thank our fans for travelling along they played their part. Every game has been very competitive because teams gave their best. The second finish will make us stronger,” Gor head coach, Frank Nuttall rued after the loss.

His opposite number, Stewart Hall said they entered the final without any pressure after playing many tournaments including the CAF Confederations Cup.

“We were under no pressure because it was part of our fitness. It was our boss birthday and this is a perfect gift we had to give him. We knew it could be a tough test but when we scored the first goal, I was confident we will go ahead and win it.

“We defended well and I’m really happy for my boys.”

Azam, who entered as slight favourites ended the tournament without conceding a goal and settled faster than their opponents.

The centre back paring of skipper Musa Mohammed and Harun Shakava were exposed by Azam skipper, Bocco and Tche Tche as Gor fell behind inside quarter of an hour.

It all started when Eric Ochieng who relegated injured Collins Okoth to the bench, lost possession giving Tche the freedom of K’Ogalo territory on the right where he swung in a cross behind Musa and Shakava for Bocco to tap past keeper, Boniface Oluoch for his third goal of the tournament.

Tempers flew up in the keenly contested decider as midfielder, Khalid Aucho escaped a sending off in the 20th when he elbowed Tche Tche but Rwandan referee, Louiz Hakizimana opted to give a foul.

Gor found their first shot on target in the 27th through Abuoba Sibomana but it didn’t trouble Azam keeper, Manula Salum who calmly saved the danger before unmarked Innocent Wafula blazed wide from close range.

The Kenyan champions surged forward in search for the equaliser that should have come on the stroke of half-time were it not for Salum who parried a powerful shot from Wafula on the left.

K’Ogalo’s leaking midfield saw Azam who pulled out Faridi Mussa for Erasto Nyoni double the lead after the restart through a well curled free-kick from Tche Tche that was conceded by Aucho who hacked down the Ivorian.

Nuttall pulled out Ochieng and wasteful Wafula for Ali Abondo and Enoch Agwanda but still nothing came their way even as Olunga saw his first chance in front of goal go wide from a Meddie Kagere set-up.