NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 29- John Mwangi struck a second half brace as Kenyan Premier League under-20 defending champions Mathare United came from behind to beat Gor Mahia Youth 3-1 and qualify for the final of the December edition.
It was a hugely competitive and physical game of two halves with Gor dictating play in the opening half while Mathare came off the half time pep talk a totally different outfit.
“We made an immediate substitution at the start of the second half and changed the formation which worked immediately. We had gone down early and we had no choice but to go on the attack. It is god we are in the final because we want to retain this title,” Mathare head coach Yussuf Chippo who took over from Gabriel Kingi midway through the tournament told Capital Sport after the match.
His opposite number Morris Onyango was distraught at the result, saying his side took their feet off the pedal in the second half.
“We became complacent and we allowed Mathare to play. Since the April edition, we have been struggling in defense and again, it came to haunt us. But we can’t be sad because this is a youth tournament and the most important thing for the young boys is to learn,” Onyango said.
Gor had hoped for revenge after Mathare beat them 1-0 in the final in August and had a fantastic start with Hillary Ojwang causing danger as early as the first minute.
The forward who has scored four goals in the tournament broke through on the right from a Reagan Odede pass but the Mathare shot stopper Job Ochieng made a superb stop with his feet.
Mathare had the first chance in the 10th minute with Mwangi showing his prowess early with a shot from the edge of the box saved by the keeper after being put through by Abdallah Ahmed.
Mwangi had another chance in the 25th minute with a dipping header from a Jackson Dwang cross but the effort went over.
Immediately on the restart, Gor went ahead through Ojwang who scored his fifth goal of the tournament with a first time shot after being put through by his skipper Alpha Onyango.
Gor were duly rewarded for their industry as they kept surging forward despite Mathare being more technically astute and distributing the ball well.
Teddy Osok who previously played for Chippo’s former side Nairobi Stima and skipper Onyango were running the midfield show but they could not get the final ball to unlock an otherwise water tight Mathare defense.
At the start of the second half Chippo pulled out midfielder Dwang for winger Ezekiel Mogendi, a change that saw ex-Laiser Hill High School player David ‘Messi’ Owino move to central midfield from the wing.
The change paid immediate dividends with Mathare equalizing just four minutes into the second half, Mwangi scoring the first with a delightful half volley after Ahmed set him up at the edge of the box from a Mogendi cross.
The goal lifted Mathare and they increased their attacks and on the hour mark, Ahmed came close to doubling the advantage but his diving header from a Mwangi cross went over.
Noticing Mathare was running rings around them, Gor head coach Onyango pulled out Odede for senior team player Amos Nondi.
But still Mathare were on the ascendancy and they kept attacking. From a swift counter attack, Peter Wanyonyi came close, but his shot from the right went inches wide from a tight angle.
Mathare made it 2-1 in the 78th minute courtesy of a defensive mix up in the Gor backline. Ahmed stretched in to toe poke the ball through to Mwangi to slot into an empty net after the keeper Ibrahim Amahanda collided with his defender Stephen Otieno as he tried to shield the ball.
Four minutes to the final whistle Mathare ploughed the final nail on Gor’s coffin with Mwangi slotting home after a sweet interchange of passes with Ahmed.