James Magayi @magayijim
Kenyan champions Gor Mahia booked a date with struggling English Championship side Hull City after trouncing local rivals AFC Leopards 5-4 in post-match penalties after both sides were unable to score during regular time in Nakuru’s Afraha Stadium yesterday.
Dubbed the Hull City Challenge, stakes were high for both clubs in the Sportpesa sponsored endeavour as, besides the local bragging rights, the glamour of playing an English club was up for grabs and Leopards forward Vincent Oburu handed K’Ogalo both by blasting his spot kick over the bar.
New Leopards coach Rodolfo Zapata hence received a not so pleasant welcome to the country as he lost his first game in charge. Gor Mahia on the other hand celebrated wildly but will silently mourn their fixture congestion as they face Hull City on May 13, three days before hosting Algerian outfit MC Alger in a CAF Confederation Cup tie at Kasarani.
As a cautionary measure ahead of this Sunday’s opening Group D fixture against Rayon Sports of Kigali, Rwanda. Gor Mahia fielded second-string players with the exception of Boniface Oluoch and Godfrey Walusimbi. Both fielded to attain match fitness ahead of the landmark continental duel.
Regardless of the massive personnel change Gor were on the front foot as they have been most of the season. They barraged the stable Leopards defence early in the game and came close after nine minutes but Kevin Omondi fluffed the chance as he did two more before the half elapsed.
Leopards too created their chances, prolific striker Ezekiel Odera mustering a not so strong shot which Oluoch smothered without ado.
Gor made usually potent changes in the second half, throwing into fray George Odhiambo, Meddie Kagere and Jacques Tuyisenge for Boniface Omondi, Kevin Omondi and Ephrem Guikan.