Every bit of preparation had been done and the deserved hype had been experienced ahead of the match. Both coaches had expressed their feelings and fans from all sides had registered their expectations in the match with each divide oozing confidence in their respective teams.
And when the centre referee kicked off the match, Gor Mahia dominated the proceedings almost immediately.
The first 15 minutes presented a beautiful midfield battle with Kenneth Muguna and Ernest Wendo outwitting the likes of Duncan Otieno, Bernard Mang’oli and Whyvonne Isuza in that pack.
Gor Mahia were keen on getting an opening goal and you could see every department geared for the same. In the 18th minute, Timothy Otieno picked the ball from the center to find unmarked Meddie Kagere who wittingly looped the ball past keeper Ian Otieno to put the Green Army in the lead.
In the 35th minute, the 2016 MVP Kenneth Muguna won the ball from the midfield, made a beautiful run towards the goal and singled out George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo inside the box. ‘Blackberry’ quickly monitored the oncoming keeper Ian Otieno and looped the ball with a careful tap for K’Ogalo’s second goal.
This was a few minutes after Timothy Otieno had beaten Robinson Kamura in AFC Leopards’ defense but the former failed to properly grip the ball for any potential danger.
Ingwe got a real scoring chance in the 38th minute when they won a free kick. Gilbert Fiamenyo rose to take it, with fans’ fingers crossed, only to see his shot move above the bar, an event which motivated Gor Mahia to completely control the ball in the remaining minutes of the first-half.
Defender Karim Nizigiyimana received the ball in front of the 18-yard mark at the stroke of the match’s 41st minute and even after beating AFC Leopards defenders, he unleashed a loose shot which never scared Ian in goal.
With one minute to the half-time, head coach Ze Maria was forced to bring in Francis Kahata in place of George Odhiambo, who had just picked an injury from a coalition with AFC Leopards player.
Kahata’s inclusion came with an immediate impact especially when he latched on a Godfrey Walusimbi pass to find Kagere whose kick floated above the crossbar. Defender Wellington Ochieng’ was the initiator of the move.
Coming from the tunnel, AFC Leopards started stronger with a view of making a comeback. Head coach Stewart Hall, who was experiencing the ‘Mashemeji’ derby for the first time, opted to introduce fresh energy Marcus Abwao for Abdalla Salim at the onset of the stanza.
The move slightly stirred up the team as Gilbert Fiamenyo and Paul Kiongera combined well upfront to threaten keeper Boniface Oluoch within the first five minutes of the second-half.
In the 48th minute, just after defender Wellington Ochieng’ had cleared a Kiongera danger, Oluoch moved out of his area giving AFC Leopards time to make a counter-attack whose end result never bore fruit thanks to Gor Mahia’s quick recovery.
Three minutes later, Godfrey Walusimbi was at it again. He saw his shot hit the post with Ian well beaten and the deflection was not met by any Gor Mahia player thereby rendering the effort unproductive.
Skipper Bernard Mang’oli then proved to be colossal in that midfield being a key connection between Robinson Kamura and Gilbert Fiamenyo but the Green Army were ever alert.
The most notable miss which will haunt AFC Leopards’ Gilbert Fiamenyo came in the 74th minute when Kiongera fed him with a pass inside the box only to squander the open chance even after beating oncoming Wellington Ochieng’. He simply shot wide out away from Boniface Oluoch.
Gor Mahia would then completely kill their rivals in the 83rd minute courtesy of Timothy Otieno. The striker, who spent 2016 season on loan at Posta Rangers, headed in a deflection after Meddie Kagere’s side-shot had hit the post leaving Ian Otieno helpless in goal.
KPL (@TheOfficialKPL) May 7, 2017
And that’s how Gor Mahia carried the day with a win which has seen them pile pressure behind league leaders Posta Rangers. For AFC Leopards, the loss has taken them two places backward sitting at position eight with 14 points from nine matches.
AFC Leopards: Ian Otieno, Joshua Mawira, Robinson Kamura, Samuel Ndung’u, Abdalla Salim, Duncan Otieno, Bernard Mang’oli, Allan Kateregga, Whyvonne Isuza, Paul Kiongera and Gilbert Fiamenyo.
Subs: Gabriel Andika, Marcus Abwao, Yakubu Ramadhan, Mike Kibwage, Andrew Tololwa, Haron Nyakha and Marcellus Ingotsi
Gor Mahia: Boniface Oluoch, Karim Nizigiyimana, Wellington Ochieng, Musa Mohammed, Haron Shakava, Kenneth Muguna, Ernest Wendo, Godfrey Walusimbi, George Odhiambo, Timothy Otieno and Meddie Kagere
Subs: Shaban Odhoji, Innocent Wafula, Philemon Otieno, Francis Kahata, Jean-Baptiste Mugiraneza, John Ndirangu and Jacques Tuyisenge.