NAIROBI, March 12 – Gor Mahia’s miserable start to the season continued as they collected their fourth draw in five matches when the champions settled for a 2-2 stalemate against City Stars in an entertaining SportPesa Premier League clash played at Nyayo National Stadium on Saturday.
George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo scored twice in a space of one minute to help K’Ogalo come back into the game, but second half substitute Joel Tata scored in the 65th minute to add on Jimmy Bagaye’s opener and snatch a point for City Stars.
Gor care-taker coach Frank Ouna slammed his defence for the defeat that cost them the first win of the season as they found themselves in an unfamiliar 11th spot on four points whilst City Stars jumped off the relegation zone to 13th on three points.
“One problem solved another crops up. We had a problem with scoring we scored two goals but now again it seems we have a problem with defending. I think we could have defended better the two goals. We need to pull up our socks,” Ouna, who is standing in as the club awaits new coach stated.
City Stars head coach John ‘Bobby’ Ogolla was content with the result though he thinks they deserved to collect maximum points.
“I’m happy not to have lost the game because we had the lead but had we not lost concentration, we could have won the match but it’s a affair result given the performance of both the teams,” the former Gor assistant coach underscored.
K’Ogalo, who are fighting to find back their grip, saw Ouna make three changes from the squad that lost 1-0 to rivals AFC Leopards, restoring right-back Karim Nizigiyimana, midfielder Eric Ouma and forward Enock Agwanda in the starting line-up.
Ogolla on the other hand maintained most of the squad that held Chemelil Sugar to a goalless draw with Ezekiel Odera starting in place of Tata.
In a balanced first-half, Bagaye was a thorn in Gor’s flesh but the Ugandan forward failed to find his range as his successive 25-yards shots went off target.
On the other end, Odhiambo squandered clear-cut opportunities that could have sent Gor three goals ahead but the 2010 Player of the Year was casual in front of goal. He wasted the first chance in the sixth minute when he dilly-dallied in the box for City Stars defender to clear the danger.
Odhiambo fluffed another chance after three minutes when he saw his fly header go over from Ouma’s delivery.
Gor tried to grow into the game and they nearly had the opener when City Stars keeper Odhiambo came off his line to miss the ball, gifting his K’Ogalo namesake a chance to put the ball behind an empty net, but ‘Blackberry’ took a lot of time to execute to see his shot cleared by John Amboko.
At the half hour mark, Onyango did well to come off his line to rescue his side when he finger-tipped Daniel Otieno’s goal bound strike.
With both sides destined for a barren first half draw, Bagaye broke the deadlock in the 43rd minute from a sole effort, when Oliver Maloba’s lofted pass set up nicely for the Ugandan to cleanly strike a low shot between Onyango’s legs.
Goalkeeping blunder from City Stars custodian Odhiambo gifted K’Ogalo a quick comeback with ‘Blackberry’ punishing their opponents with a brace on the stroke of half-time to cheer up the handful Green Army.
Godfrey Walusimbi was the man to watch in the second half as he threatened twice but it was the hosts who laughed last when Maloba found Tata, who came on for Otieno with the new blood announcing his arrival with a neatly finish tap in.
The Premier League takes a two-week break to enable the national football team Harambee Stars prepare adequately for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier ahead of their back-to-back tie against minnows Guinea Bissau.