The curse of Azam returned to haunt Gor Mahia as the Tanzanian club ended K’Ogalo’s treble charge as they beat them for the second time in a row to knock them out of the ongoing Council of East and Central Africa Football Association (Cecafa) Club Championships in Dar es Salaam. After stunning the Kenyan champions 2-0 in the tournament’s final in 2016, Azam repeated the same feat yesterday, winning with an identical scoreline to increase their chances of retaining the title and deny K’Ogalo a chance to win the regional trophy for the first time since 1983.
Both the goals were scored in extra time after the two sides could not be separated in regular time. Gor players who have been complaining about lack of financial incentives from their bosses, were lethargic from the onset trailing Azam in all the vital aspects of the game but somehow managed to see out regular time without conceding a goal as a wasteful Azam failed to utilise their scoring opportunities.
Azam were, however, not so forgiving in extra time as forward Ditram Nchimbi broke the deadlock punishing a casual K’Ogalo defence barely 60 seconds into the first 15 minutes of extra time. The forward picked a poorly cleared ball outside K’Ogalo’s penalty box, shuffled a yard inside and fired low unimpeded by three defenders into Boniface Oluoch’s right hand side post.
The goal woke a sleepy Gor Mahia who mustered their usual attacking mojo and pinned Azam deep into their half desperate for an equaliser.
Humphrey Mieno tested the Azam custodian with a long-range shot that Razak Abalora punched into Jacques Tuyisenge’s path but the Rwandase striker wasted the chance.
Gor’s forays vexed Azam but the Tanzanian outfit got a lucky break with a swift counter attack from deep inside their defensive area with Bruce Kangwa squeezing a fierce drive low into Boniface Oluoch’s near post to double Azam’s advantage. K’Ogalo probed and asked questions but Azam threw all they had into defending and running down the clock.
Gor bowed out albeit with their pride intact but now sweat over their absent midfield duo of Francis Kahata and Ernest Wendo. Wendo sustained a groin injury in their quarter-final victory over Vipers and could be out for the next two months while Kahata was said to be unwell.
The skillful former Thika United and FK Tirana midfielder has been a subject of interest from Tanzanian moneybags Simba who have already snapped up Meddie Kagere from Gor Mahia. Kahata’s absence raised further speculation of an imminent move.
Simba are said to have tabled a Sh10 million for the services of Kahata who has 12 months left on his contract with Gor Mahia. If the deal over Kahata is pushed over the line and Wendo is ruled out for six weeks, Kogalo cold face the remainder of CAF Confederation Cup group stage matches without three cogs that have been key in their campaign.
Gor Mahia are already deprived of the services of Joash Onyango for their next continental assignment against Yanga as the defender is suspended.
Coach Dylan Kerr has been grooming Charles Momanyi for that role, hence the youngster’s recent numerous appearances at the heart of defense.