NAKURU, Kenya, May 1- Vincent Oburu rocketed his penalty high in the sky as AFC Leopards lost to Gor Mahia 5-4 on post-match penalties, K’Ogalo booking a date with English Championship side Hull City in a friendly match on May 13 in Nairobi.
The game had been tied at 0-0 in regular time and headed straight to penalties. The first five ended 4-4 after Gor substitute keeper, Shabaan Odhoji had saved from Whyvonne Isuza while Jack Tuyisenge saw his penalty go high over.
Meddie Kagere, Geoffrey Walusimbi, George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo, Joachim Oluoch and Bernard Ondiek scored for Gor while AFC’s Ezekiel Odera, Baker Lukooya, Duncan Otieno and Robinson Kamura converted theirs.
It wasn’t a pleasant start to new AFC head coach Radolfo Zapata who was making his first appearance on the dug out on a day that also happened to be his birthday.
Gor Mahia head coach Dylan Kerr made a complete overhaul of the squad that played in Sunday’s 2-2 draw against Mathare United in Machakos with shot-stopper Boniface Oluoch returning to the starting team and donning the skipper’s armband.
Walusimbi also made his first start for Gor since February’s CAF Champions League tie against Esperance in Machakos.
In his first match in charge, Ingwe’s new coach Zapata fielded his strongest team but made changes in the goalkeeping department with younster Ezekiel Owade making his first start since making the switch from Nakumatt.
Jairus Adira, who has been error prone over the last few matches, was left out of the team while Gabriel Andika made the substitutes bench.
It was Ingwe who started faster off the blocks and within the first minute of the game, Vincent Oburu surged forward from the left and into the box but his shot at goal was blocked by Charles Momanyi.
On the other end, Charles Momanyi had a great chance when an in-swinging freekick delivered from the left by Walusimbi found him unmarked at the far post but he could not direct his header on target.
In the 10th minute, an error from Robinson Kamura almost gifted Gor the lead when the defender’s miscued clearance was contested and won by Ephraim Guikan who headed it to Lawrence Juma, but the midfielder’s shot went inches over.
Gor continued to dominate in terms of chances and three minutes later, Kevin ‘Ade’ Omondi was set up by Juma, but his first time curling shot went straight to keeper Owade.
AFC were forced into an early sub when left-back Isaac Oduro limped off injured after a collision with Omondi and was replaced by Moses Mburu.
Zapata’s charges settled into the game but they couldn’t crack the Gor defense, the tact of using Brian Marita and Oburu’s speed on the wings not working to prescription.
Late on, Gor had another chance with Juma’s freekick from the right being punched away by Owade who was the busiest of the two keepers.
A lapse in concentration in the Gor defense almost saw AFC start the second half with a goal when they assumed a dipping freekick from the right but Robinson Kamura followed through and back-heeled back into the area, but Ezekiel Odera’s effort was blocked by Oluoch.
AFC started the second period better but in the 55th minute they were almost caught on the counter.
A misplaced pass from Oburu to Mburu saw Juma win the ball and spread to Guikan in the middle of the pack. The Ivorian had a good touch on the turn but his final pass to a rushing Omondi was poor.
Ingwe made their first chance after 20 minutes, Brin Marita coming off for Baker Lukooya. Gor responded with a twin change, Meddie Kagere and Jack Tuyisenge coming on for Omondi and Guikan.
Later on, George Odhiambo was also introduced for Boniface Omondi as Gor went full throttle on attack. However, the pace of the game was hugely pedestrian and no meaningful chances were created.
At the death though, Kagere almost won it for Gor with a shot at the near post but Owade made a brilliant one handed save to turn the ball behind for a corner.
With the penalties beckoning, Kerr made his final change, goalkeeper Oluoch coming off for Shabaan Odhoji.k