Kerr in a debut win as Gor soar to KPL summit
Gor Mahia leapt to the summit of the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) after sinking FC Nakumatt 2-0, in match staged at the Nairobi’s Nyayo Stadium on Sunday.
It was a good welcome note for the new Gor coach Dylan Kerr on his debut assignment in KPL, George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo’s 90th minute strike and an own goal by Eugine Ambulwa in the fifth ensuring maximum points.
The 15-time national champions have a match in hand with 31 points, one above Posta Rangers who sit second in the table with Ulinzi Stars closing the top three slots with 29.
At the Meru’s Kinoro Stadium, holders Tusker FC were forced to a 1-1 draw by Posta Rangers with Dennis Mukhaisi and Boniface Muchiri scoring for the sides. Mukhaisi struck in the sixth before Muchiri leveled just before halftime.
Rangers coach Sammy Omollo was happy with the result, while his counterpart George ‘Best’ Nsimbe claimed the referee was biased against them.
“You could see for yourself, so manyu chances we created but he was always stopping us. We however forge forward with confidence hoping to play every second round match like a knock-out affair,” Nsimbe told.
In an earlier kickoff at Nyayo, Zoo Kericho rallied from a goal down to salvage a 1-1 draw with fellow newcomers in the topflight Kariobangi Sharks.
Ebrimma Sanneh put Sharks ahead in the 49th minute with a free header despite Zoo players protesting that it was scored from an offside position. Danson Namasakha would come off the bench to restore parity for Zoo with his first touch of the match 20 minutes later.
Following the result, Sharks remain fifth in the log with 27 points while Zoo leapfrogged AFC Leopards to 12th with 19 points. Leopards lost 1-0 to Western Stima on Saturday.
“It’s a nice feeling to start on a winning note here, but we have to show the tenacity we showed when we played Everton in Tanzania. There was an extra motivation you could see, and we want to replicate that in our matches locally.
“In training players are doing well. We want them to show the same in our matches, for I’m here to win the league but it has to start from one match to another before we count our grand gains at the end of the season,” charged Kerr.
Gor missed three regular starters, goalkeeper Boniface Oluoch, Wellington Ochieng and Ernest Wendo, the former being away for a friend’s funeral while the latter are injured.
“I know how important Boniface is not only in Gor but to the national team, and everyone expects him back tomorrow. Peter Odiambo however did well keeping a clean sheet.
“Wendo was not fit for today’s match after the Spain tour (with the KPL All Stars team) and we decided not to risk him, while Ochieng was serving suspension after accumulation of five yellow cards. We however have a big team and anyone in the team must be always ready for the duty,” Kerr added.
Nakumatt’s Anthony Mwangi is upbeat his charges will hit back resoundingly on Wednesday in the return leg.
“We did well, the only undoing was lapse of concentration at the start and at the end. We also missed a few chances, and we cannot blame Ambulwa for the own goal because that happens in football.
“Gor should expect a tougher encounter in the midweek, it should be a bright second leg start,” Mwangi remarked.
Gor was dominant all through, with Odhiambo and Meddie Kagere making four promising attempts within the first 10 minutes. Nakumatt then made the first attack after Boniface Akenga dribbled past the entire Gor defense but was unable to beat custodian Odhiambo. In a quick response, Sammy Okinda on the other end denied George Odhiambo what would have been the second goal.
After the break, Gor Mahia started with a high tempo, Meddie Kagere missing narrowly after latching onto Omondi’s low cross across the goal.
Ugandan International Godfrey Walusimbi engineered an awesome move, involving Odhiambo who would lose the ball to Ken Onyango just before pulling the trigger. Former Leopards striker Kepha Aswani should have equalized through a well taken free kick, but missed narrowly with the keeper beaten.
Substitute Joshua Oyoo was on fire on the right wing, sending several sumptuous crosses into the box, but Gor defense was alert to keep off the menace. The last gasp strike by Odhiambo then came after a goal line clearance found him unmarked, allowing him to dribble comfortably before shooting past a retreating Okinda who was out of line.
Sharks coach William Muluya expects a tougher return match in round 18 away to Zoo, but knows better how to approach the Kericho based club after today’s clash.
“They (players) did their best. We expected more than a point but we are happy we never walked home empty handed. The return leg will be more exciting because Zoo will be at home but we are going to sharpen our striking force and ensure we don’t waste our chances like we did today.
“It won’t be easy but our focus is winning,” Muluya offered after the match.
His opposite number Sammy Okoth blamed poor officiating for the draw, but kept faith his charges will carry the day in the next meeting on Wednesday.
“I’m not disappointed because we drew; the issue is the goal they scored was from an offside position. We however reacted positively and commanded the rest of the match.
“I’m confident we can do better at home, we just need to polish our finishing department,” Okoth told Citizen Digital.
Report by Jacob Icia and Geoffrey Mwamburi and Mwenda Kinoti.
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