Two superbly taken goals and a mistake defined the “Mashemeji” derby played at Kasarani Stadium yesterday as defending champions Gor Mahia claimed the bragging rights over rivals AFC Leopards courtesy of a 2-1 score line.
Gor consequently stretched their SportPesa Premier League (SPL) lead to 12 points.
After week-long chest thumping from both sides, the die was cast as both teams lined up at the pristine Kasarani lawns for the duel. Leopards coach Rodolfo Zapata stuffed his midfield with five players, ostensibly to choke Gor and kill their creativity.
As a result, both teams struggled to settle. An end-to-end affair marked the opening 20 minutes with neither side finding penetration but the game burst into life in the 21st minute when Salim Abdalla, Leopards’ skipper of the day gifted K’Ogalo the ball in the box.
Abdalla received a short pass from defensive partner Michael Kibwage and the burly defender’s attempt to tee the ball back to his goalkeeper fell short. A lurking Jacques Tuyisenge latched on to the ball and fired past an advancing Ezekiel Owade.
Gor managed to hold Leopards at bay after going ahead and were happy to pass the ball around and run down the clock. Leopards upped their ante and threw men forward with free-scoring midfielder Whyvonne Isuza pulling the strings. The game seemed headed for the break with K’Ogalo upfront but Isuza scored his 10th goal of the season with a sumptuous bicycle kick in a crowded box after being afforded enough time and space to meet Marvin Omondi’s cross.
A fresh start in the second half saw K’Ogalo expressing dominance as Ingwe introduced burly Nigerian forward Alex Orotomal to compliment Odera’s efforts. Gor Mahia were finding spaces behind Dennis Sikhayi and Isaac Oduro, Leopards fullbacks who sped forward at any given opportunity.
One such break yielded a corner, which Francis Kahata took short, finding Humphrey Mieno who in turn teed up Kahata on the right side of the Ingwe box. The diminutive but skillful midfielder scooped the ball, sending it to the back post where George Odhiambo met it first time with a ferocious strike.
Through a crowded six-yard box, the ball flew into the net at Owade’s near post to prop K’Ogalo ahead once more. The experienced Gor then engaged tact in their dealing with Leopards, hogging possession while creating spaces behind the overlapping Ingwe fullbacks.
K’Ogalo could have added more goals but were not clinical with Wafula, Guikan and Kahata missing opportunities.