NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 8 – AFC Leopards’ wait for a Mashemeji Derby victory stretched on for a ninth match as they were beaten 1-0 by arch rivals Gor Mahia at the Moi Sports Centre Kasarani on Sunday, in a match attended by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Gor patron Raila Odinga.
Boniface Omondi scored the lone goal in the 26th minute to hand Gor a precious three points that not only gave them derby day bragging rights but an opportunity to stretch their lead on top of the standings further ahead.
President Kenyatta, a man who seldom attends football matches was in the stands watching alongside Raila and Amani National Congress (ANC) party leader Musalia Mudavadi who was complete in an Ingwe jersey.
The Head of State had come to the Kasarani Stadium straight from Nyayo where he had completed a 2.6km race in the Beyond Zero Half Marathon in a personal best time of 30minutes 50.1 seconds.
Omondi broke the deadlock in the 26th minute when he reacted quickest inside the box after AFC keeper Benjamin Ochan spilled a header from Nicholas Kipkurui off a corner, bouncing it on left back Washington Onyango’s hip in the process.
Off a balanced start to the match, both sides had good chances.
Prior to the goal, Gor had come close with Clifton Miheso’s shot from the left going over while on the other end in the eighth minute, Elvis Rupia’s shot took a deflection but Boniface Oluoch in Gor’s goal reacted well to turn the ball behind for a corner.
Gor who had a slightly bigger share of possession had another chance when Kenneth Muguna’s shot from distance sailed straight to the keeper’s arms while Rupia threatened again with a header off a cross from the right.
AFC started off the second half with Jaffary Owiti being rested for Boniface Mukhekhe, a like for like change aimed at giving Anthony Kimani’s side more pace on the wing.
Ingwe had come into the final 45 of the match seeking to turn the tide on their arch rivals and finally get one over them. They had chances in the opening few minutes with Austin Odhiambo’s low left footed shot at the edge of the box going straight to the keeper’s arms.
Oluoch had to come out of his line fast few minutes later to narrow the angle and block an effort from Rupia. Munene had a chance few minutes later from a freekick, but his effort sailed straight to Oluoch despite going beyond the wall.
On the other end, a defensive mistake from AFC with a half hearted clearance saw the ball land on Miheso, but the winger’s first time effort was strongly palmed away for a corner by Benjamin Ochan in the AFC goal.
But Ingwe should have drawn level in the 65th minute when Mukhekhe’s cut back from the right found Rupia, but the striker’s effort with a first time volley went inches wide.
While AFC pressed forward to try and claim at least a point, they were almost caught out at the rear when substitute Juma Balinya’s effort was cleared off the line with four minutes left after keeper Ochan spilled a shot from Lawrence Juma.