NAIROBI, October 14 – Ali Abondo rediscovered his scoring touch to sink a brace as SportPesa Premier League champions, Gor Mahia, dismissed third tier side Palos FC 4-2 to storm to the quarter-finals of the GOtv Shield.
The six-goal thriller played at Nairobi’s Kasarani Stadium on Wednesday, saw Harambee Stars forward, Michael Olunga and defender Harun Shakava, also on target to complete the rout with Calvin Omanga also notching a double in reply for the Kisumu based minnows.
Gor head coach, Frank Nuttall gave non regulars, captain and keeper Jerim Onyango, Ernest Wendo, Erick Ochieng, Abondo and George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo a start and he was elated with the win despite the fact Palos gave the titans a scare.
“We deserved to score four goals because we had possession and created chances. To come out winners in a cup competition and go through to the next round was the main idea.
“It’s not necessarily we will be winning games with clean sheets because today we had a new defence. I’m pleased with their performance,” the Scotsman gushed after surviving a spirited display from the massive underdogs.
His opposite number, Paul Ogai, hailed his charges after giving a good account against a team that has swept all before them in clinching a third successive top flight crown.
“My players did their best since we were playing against the champions. We scored two goals and we didn’t deserve to concede two. The chances we created shows the boys have taken it to the next level so we will continue on improving,” he mused.
With full backs, Burundian Karim Nizigiyimana and Rwandese, Abuoba Sibomana out on international duty, Nuttall deployed midfielder Ochieng in the unfamiliar left back position as Olunga and Kagere maintained their twin striking role.
Abondo gave K’ogalo the early lead in the second minute when he volleyed home Olunga’s flick-on from deep midfield to give the overwhelming favourites the best of starts.
However, the flood of goals and any thoughts of steamrolling to the quarterfinals were soon dispensed with by their dogged lower division opponents.
Geoffrey Ochieng saw his ferocious long range shot hit side netting before their raids in Gor territory paid-off in the18th when Omanga fashioned a neat cross goal finish off a Keneth Mugambi defence-splitting pass for the leveller.
The Kisumu outfit threatened to upset the titans but Onyango produced a stunning save to deny Palos captain, Edwin Clifford’s stinging effort from the edge of the box.
Gor were roused into action and Olunga restored their lead at the half hour mark on the counter after his strike partner, Kagere, provided the assist as the leading scorer squeezed a low shot on target for a 2-1 half time lead.
Abondo added his second five minutes after the breather when he picked Wendo’s pass to turn and smash past Palos keeper, Geoffrey Were, for Gor’s third.
Were then denied Odhiambo who unleashed a cracker in the 58th with substitute Eddy Balaa missing a chance to make a game of the contest after he did well to beat Onyango in the K’Ogalo goal but could not reach the ball to turn it back into an empty net.
Palos mounted pressure when they reduced the deficit in the 66th after Omanga picked Mugambi’s pass from the left to tap past Onyango for his double.
Bernard Ochieng then denied Gor when he cleared Olunga’s shot off the line from a corner brought in by Abondo.
Harun Shakava broke Palos hopes of mounting the comeback when the Stars defender ghosted in the near post to finish off Abondo’s corner in the 73rd for the decisive strike.