NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 16 – They might not have done it in superb fashion as they have done for the better part of the season, but they did it anyway.
Gor Mahia moved closer to clinching a record-setting 17th Kenyan Premier League title with a 1-0 win over Chemelil Sugar at the Afraha Stadium in Nakuru on Thursday, opening a 17-point gap on top of the standings with a match at hand.
Eliud Lokuwam scored barely 10 minutes after coming on in a scrappy game that didn’t provide much of attacking spectacle especially for most of the second half.
But that mattered less; the most important thing was the result. With maximum points against Sofapaka and AFC Leopards in their next two games, Gor will be confirmed champions.
With the CAF Confederation Cup tie against Rayon Sports lingering in the horizon on Sunday, head coach Dylan Kerr made sweeping changes to his squad, giving the entire second team an opportunity to prove their worth.
From the team that won against Kakamega Homeboyz in Kisumu on Monday afternoon, only keeper Shabaan Odhoji started. The rest of the first team players were not even on the starting team, the coach choosing to give them a complete rest.
The game took a bit of time to get into rhythm and Gor’s first chance of the game came after 14 minutes when Bernard Ondiek’s shot from inside the box flew wide after a goalmouth scramble off a Wesley Onguso corner.
Four minutes later, Chemelil keeper Richard Aimo pulled off a brilliant double save to keep his side into contention.
He first did well to spread his body on the ground nicely to block a shot from Ephraim Guikan after the Ivorian controlled beautifully a pass from Lawrence Juma before going at goal with his weaker right foot.
From the rebound, Aimo was at hand once again to give a powerful punch to the ball after it was sent right back in with a rifling shot from Ondiek.
Chemelil struggled to create chances and tried to catch Gor off the break. In the 28th minute, a through ball was threaded to Bernard Biko, buthe wasn’t fast enough to it as Odhoji came off his line to clear.
Nine minutes from the break, Felix Oluoch had the sugar millers’ first effort on target with his header off a Francis Ochollah cross from the right heading straight into Odhoji’s arms.
Gor were forced into a change two minutes to halftime with Guikan being forced out injured after a heavy collision with the Chemelil keeper going for a high ball. His place was taken by Innocent Wafula.
There wasn’t much to talk about in the second half from a scrappy display, none of the two sides being able to keep the ball for more than five touches.
The game changing moment came in the 68th minute when Kerr introduced Lokuwam for Samuel Onyango. The youngster repaid the faith Kerr had in him scoring the winner within 10 minutes of coming on.
A through ball from Cersidy Okeyo into the box saw keeper Aimo clash with his defenders as he came out to collect, Lokuwam taking advantage to bounce the ball off their path and slam into an empty net for his first goal in Gor colors.