DAR-ES-SALAAM, Tanzania- It was a wonderful festival of football that had it all as English Premier League (EPL) heavyweights Everton FC and record Kenyan league champions, Gor Mahia FC clashed in a landmark friendly in Tanzania.
The final score read 2-1 to the Toffees but that was only a fraction of the tale. The game’s undisputed star and England hero Wayne Rooney made international headlines by rolling back the years when scoring a peach of a goal on his first appearance since returning to Everton FC.
A huge security scare followed when a deranged home fan at the jam-packed National Stadium in Dar-es-Salaam broke free of the security barrier, raced to the middle of the pitch and gave his hero a bear hug. To his credit, Rooney took it all to the chin.
An opening goal for Everton in the 34th minute of the opening half worthy of an entry to Rooney’s extended catalogue of wonder-strikes from range that gave Kenyan first choice keeper, Boniface Onyango absolutely no chance.
Two minutes later, record K’Ogalo signing, Rwandese international, Jacques Tuyisenge, justified his USD38461.56 (KSh4m), prize tag, meagre for an EPL side but a fortune in East Africa when he headed in a fine equaliser on the near post from a corner.
In front of a deafing atmosphere, up stepped second half substitute Kierran Dowell to produce a terrific strike to match Rooney’s quality in the 77th for a deserved winner.
After six minutes of added time at the end of the 90, the final whistle could go- everyone could now breath- it was one of those contests where the game of football is advertised.
“It not easy for the strike to go the right way but I’m happy it went in. They were much tired than us in the second half and that helped up. They were hard to break down and a compact team and I’m glad we have got off the mark.
“Everyone has been nice to us in Tanzania and we are grateful to the people of the country,” the hero of the hour Dowell said post-match.
“In the first half we played good football and we did not give Everton the chance. In the second half, we sat too deep, the Everton manager has told us we must press forward and attack.
“Sometimes in African football, we complicate things, run with the ball a lot but I’m sure everyone watching has seen a good game of football. Today, I gave every player apart from two so that I could learn them,” Gor head coach, Dylan Kerr who was leading the side for the first time five days after arriving to take charge of the record 15-time Kenyan champions remarked.