Ze Maria’s exit reports unconfirmed as Gor fall to Nzoia
The fate of Gor Mahia head coach, Marcelo ‘Ze Maria’ Ferreira remained unclear on Sunday after the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions were tossed out of the GOtv Shield competition by second-tier leaders, Nzoia United in the most stunning result of the round of 32.
Reports surfaced he had been sacked in the immediate aftermath of the shock 1-0 defeat to the National Super League leaders but club management was non-committal when reached for confirmation.
“We will release an official statement soon,” K’Ogalo team manager Jolawi Obondo said when contacted over reports the former Brazil international had been axed.
Chairman Ambrose Rachier and Secretary General, Ronald Ngara were not reachable only heightening the speculation as the stuttering KPL titleholders hopes of completing a domestic treble ended at the Mumias Sports Complex at the hand of Nzoi who remain unbeaten this season.
Earlier reports indicated Ze Maria had sacked his goal-keeping trainer, Matthews Owino Ottamax, the former Kenyan international before they boarded their flight to Kisumu as the simmering row in the technical bench came to the surface.
It capped a nightmare week for the record 15-time domestic champions with players said to have staged a protest against non-payment of match allowances.
Edgar Nzano’s spot kick in the first half settled matters after Ernest Wendo handled in the box with the Sugar Millers who are leading the race to return to the KPL reigned supreme.
It was the NSL leader’s 22nd game without loss while it was the second successive seasons that K’Ogalo fell to second-tier opposition in the competition after bowing out on penalties to Nakumatt FC in the semi finals last year.
The game was an end to end affair from the first whistle with K’Ogalo ruing their missed chances in the first half.
The first effort of note fell to Nick Yakhama who almost broke the deadlock seven minutes into the game but fumbled the chance driving his shot marginally wide.
K’Ogalo responded five minutes later when Eric ‘Marcelo’ Ouma chipped in a lovely cross from the left flank but Enock Agwanda could not control the ball with the keeper intervening.
Nzoia Sugar got the breakthrough on the half hour mark when the referee pointed to the penalty spot after Wendo’s handball.
Nzano made no mistake with the resultant spot kick sending Harambee Stars international Boniface Olouch the wrong way to open the scoring for Nzoia.
The two teams continued pressing in the ensuing minutes but none could breach the stubborn defences and Nzoia went into the break leading by the solitary goal.
Gor Head Coach Ze Maria came back after the restart looking for a way back into the game resting Agwanda for out of favour striker Jacob Keli.
The substitution almost had an immediate impact after Rwandan international Jacques Tuyisenge chipped delivery found an unmarked Keli in the box but just as he was about to pull the trigger the linesman flagged him for offside.
Nzoia went looking for their second in the 70th when substitute Patrick Kwitonda squared the ball to Yakhama but with only the keeper to beat, shot at the crossbar with the ball bouncing deceivingly on the goal line and back into play.
Danger man Yakhama had another chance to notch his brace two minutes later but he stumbled in the 18 yard box as he was about to take his shot with the referee dismissing his appeals for a penalty.
Meddie Kagere had a glorious chance to get the equalizer ten minutes to the end after being put through by Francis Kahata but his shot-cum-pass did not trouble the Benson Mangala in between the sticks.
The 15-time KPL champions continued searching for the equalizer in the dying minutes of the game but Nzoia saw off the game to claim a memorable victory.
-Additional reporting by Milton Ochieng
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