Gor, Leopards fire blanks in Mashemeji Derby
- Gor Mahia FC and AFC Leopards battled to a barren draw as the FKF Premier League's highlight clash of the season failed to live up to expectation on Sunday at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani
- Perhaps the lack of fan atmosphere had a part to play for the dour Mashemeji derby contest which was the first ever to be played behind closed doors due to the prevailing COVID-19 restrictions in the country
Gor Mahia FC and AFC Leopards battled to a barren draw as the FKF Premier League’s highlight clash of the season failed to live up to expectation on Sunday at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.
Perhaps the lack of fan atmosphere had a part to play for the dour Mashemeji derby contest which was the first ever to be played behind closed doors due to the prevailing COVID-19 restrictions in the country.
The 89th meeting between the two sides marked the 32nd draw, with Gor boasting of 30 wins against Ingwe’s 27.
The result left Leopards fourth on the log with 19 points, behind leaders Tusker FC, KCB and Wazito who have 26, 25 and 20 respectively, while Gor are sixth with 16.
Leopards coach Athony Kimani, who was leading Leopards in his last match as an interim manager following the arrival of head coach Patrick Aussems, said the draw was worth taking home considering the recent record against the reigning champions.
“We have really progressed in terms of growth, and while the feeling it’s two points lost cannot fade completely, we still congratulate the players for fighting for the draw,” remarked the Kimani, reflecting on Gor’s dominance over them since 2016.
His opposite number Carlos Manuel Vaz Pinto said he was unhappy with the result.
“Of course I’m not happy because we had a chance to win especially in the first half, but we lost our opportunities. We know we can do better,” said the Portuguese, in his first derby in charge.
It was Gor who got off the blocks hungrier, captain Muguna forcing Leopards’ custodian Benjamin Ochan into an excellent one-handed save from a skillful free-kick at the right edge of the box, just two minutes into the match.
Nicholas Kipkirui had won the free-kick, having been fouled by a tactful Robinson Kamura as he sought to cruise into the box. Leopards responded in the fifth, Kamura’s free-kick hitting K’Ogalo’s wall easing keeper Boniface Oluoch’s work in collecting the ball.
Collins Shichenje was the first to go into Davies Omweno’s books in the eighth, his foul bearing Muguna yet another free-kick which Ochan punched onto Alpha Onyango’s path, whose rebound flew over the bar.
The youthful Shichenje would be on the spotlight almost immediately, as Muguna easily stole the ball from him in the area but a quick Ochan snaffled the ball before any damage.
K’Ogalo were zealous, pinning their rivals into their own half in the first quarter. Kipkirui would have broken the jinx when he made a 360º turn in the box and was almost pulling the trigger when Clyde Senaji cleared.
Former Ulinzi Stars man Samuel Onyango hard tackle on Austin Odhiambo earned hima yellow card just at the quarter-hour mark, before yet another Kipkirui’s attempt from a diagonal cross by Geoffrey Ochieng proved futile.
The tempo significantly reduced after the first 20 minutes, and Leopards enjoyed some peace in their goal until the 30 th when Burundi import Jules Ulimwengu’s header was cleared off the line by a hardworking Lewis Bandi.
It was a close shave for the Kimani’s men, as Ochan was already lost in the crowded box, beaten to the ball from a pinpoint thrown-in by Geoffrey Ochieng.
Upon restart, Kimani executed double changes, introducing Harrison Mwendwa and Peter Thiong’o for Odhiambo and Marvin Nabwire respectively, before withdrawing Shichenje for Eugine Mukangula eight minutes later.
The substations worked as Kimani sought stability in the midfield where Muguna, Ernest Wendo and Onyango were arguably running the show.
There was nothing meaningful forthcoming prompting Gor tactician Pinto to introduce recent Harambee Stars call up John Macharia in the place for Ulimwengu and Clifton Miheso for Onyango.
Caution was evident from both sides, leaving the goalkeepers with little to do with the contest taking more shape in the midfield.
Notably, Elvis Rupia who has 10 goals so far in the campaign, was finding no space to penetrate Gor’s box from his characteristic runs, only threatening through a few set-pieces.
In the 83rd, his header from a corner was wide off target, every signal showing the two sides were settling for a stalemate.
Not even late substitute Tito Okello would change the scoreboard after replacing Kipkirui, his only visible effort coming in the 90th from a Macharia’s cross.
Elsewhere in Kericho, Zoo Kericho lost to visiting Bidco United 2-0 in the only other FKF PL match of the day. This is Bidco’s second win in a row, after beating Posta Rangers 1-0 in the last outing.
MASHEMEJI DERBY LINE-UPS
Gor: Boniface Oluoch, Philemon Otieno, Geoffrey Ochieng, Charles Momanyi, Andrew Juma, Ernest Wendo, Samuel Onyango, Alpha Onyango, Jules Ulimwengu, Kenneth Muguna, Nicholas Kipkirui.
Leopards: Benjamin Ochan, Collins Shivachi, Lewis Bandi, Clyde Senaji, Robinson Kamura, Collins Shichenje, Fabrice Mugheni, Austin Odhiambo, Elvis Rupia, Bienvenue Shaka, Marvin Omondi.
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