NAIROBI, October 28 – Gor Mahia’s talisman, Michael Olunga, sunk a late winner to end Western Stima’s stubborn resistance on Wednesday and place the champions a step away from finishing a resounding SportPesa Premier League season unbeaten.
Olunga’s 18th strike of his roaring league campaign proved to be the difference, the lanky striker once again deciding a match after he notched the winner against fellow titans, Tusker FC on Sunday.
The ‘Engineer’ kept the race for the Golden Boot alive and the winner will be decided on the final day of the campaign on Sunday when Gor return to Nairobi to face Muhoroni Youth where they will be presented with the league trophy for keeps.
Goal-chart leader, Tusker’s Jesse Were, is now only two ahead of the K’Ogalo danger man, and his team face a tricky assignment against AFC Leopards in the battle of the wounded giants who failed to stop Gor from emphatically sealing a third successive crown.
Stima who played boldly at the Moi Kisumu Stadium they call home although Gor enjoy fanatical support in the lakeside city, engaged a rear guard action reminiscent of the Biblical Walls of Jericho after respectfully mounting a guard of honour for the champions before kick-off.
But as they eventually found out, albeit a minute to full time when Olunga did all the damage, Frank Nutall’s charges have perfected the art of breaking down stubborn opponents, the minutes on the clock notwithstanding.
Tusker lasted 71 minutes at the same Kisumu stadium on Sunday before Olunga pounced and it is credit to Henry Omino’s charges they managed to hold their fort until crumbling at the very last.
A goalless first half saw Stima control midfield in the opening seven as they denied Gor the opportunity to switch on their passing game but Ali Abondo unsettled them when he fashioned a thunderbolt from 18 yards to test keeper, Gabriel Andika who punched away the threat.
From there onwards, it was one-way traffic as K’Ogalo laid siege but Andika kept his side alive, first when he swiftly recovered to deny Olunga’s goal bound effort after the Harambee Stars forward wasted a one-on-one chance by looping the ball over the advancing keeper before his feeble header was rescued.
Meddie Kagere electrified the Green Army with his ferocious shot from the edge of the box that missed getting in on the side post by inches as Olunga saw his second chance rattle the crossbar from a set-piece as the match entered the half hour mark.
Andika kept Stima in it when he tipped over a George ‘Blackberry’ free-kick three minutes to the break.
The hosts opted to sit back when they returned as Andika continued with his man of the match performance to stop Kagere twice and Abondo.
But there is nothing he could do when Olunga finally found his deadly range with his gifted head from an Abondo cross to lift Gor to 75 points, a tally that extended the Kenyan Premier League era record and only a draw away from adding the icing to their crown by winning the ‘Invincibles’ tag.
Nairobi is set for the mother of all parties should Gor manage to hold or better their Muhoroni opponents who are yet to lose in the second leg of the campaign.