DAR-ES-SALAAM, Tanzania- SportPesa Premier League (SPL) champions, Gor Mahia FC were dumped out of the ongoing Cecafa Kagame Cup at the semi-finals after losing 0-2 to Tanzanian titleholders, Azam FC on Wednesday afternoon at the National Stadium in Dar-es-Salaam.
It was a repeat of the final score in 2015- the last time the regional club competition was held-where K’Ogalo surrendered the trophy to Azam.
Two goals in extra time sunk the Kenyan titleholders after the sides played to a goalless draw in regulation, with Ditrim Nchimbi striking the first in the 93rd minute at the near post following a defensive blunder.
Gor keeper, Boniface Oluoch, was picking the ball from his net four minutes later when Bruce Kangwa powered through the defence from the left to land the decisive blow for Dylan Kerr’s side.
Azam await the winners of the other semi-final, Tanzanian league winners, Simba SC and Jeshi la Kujenga Uchumi SCZ from Zanzibar after overcoming the Kenyan giants who finally ran out of steam following a grueling campaign where they were seeking honours on five fronts.
K’Ogalo now shift focus on their SPL title defense where they enjoy a nine-point lead at the summit with three games in hand over closest challengers, Sofapaka FC, their CAF Confederations Cup tie against Tanzanian titans Yanga FC and of course, their much-anticipated trip to England to face Everton FC after beating Simba to the 2018 SportPesa Super Cup glory.
However, British head coach Kerr and his charges will not be travelling home yet since they have a third-place play-off on Friday against the other losing semi-finalist.
Without star playmaker, Francis Kahata and Ernest Wendo who missed the semi injured, Gor lacked their usual zip in the opening exchanges of the encounter as they sought to pay back their final’s defeat in 2015.
Winger and Kenyan international, George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo was the first Gor player to test the Azam keeper, Razak Abalora but his finish flew to the grateful arms of the custodian in the 13th.
Another half chance for the Kenyan champions fell to striking duo, Jacques Tuyisenge and Ephrem Guikan but the latter fluffed his lines when put through on goal by his partner in a half Azam dominated the opening period much to the joy of the home fans.
Looking jaded in the second half, Yahya Mudathir spared Gor the blushes when he snapped the offside trap but his week finish failed to trouble Oluoch with captain Harun Shakava who raced back to recover putting the Azam forward off.
Oluoch was then extended to his fullest in the 67th when he pulled off a brilliant stop to deny Ramadhan Singano the opener from point-blank range.
Having made two substitutions, Kerr suffered a blow when Odhiambo was forced off injured in the 83rd injured with Francis Mustapha coming on.
There was to be no late flourish for either side as the game ticked on to full time with Gor hanging on to take the match to the extra period.
Having been in the ropes for long, Azam finally landed the knockout blow in extra time that accounted for only the third defeat for K’Ogalo this season, all coming away from Kenya following the 0-1 CAF Champions League loss to Esperance de Tunis in Tunisia and the 1-2 reverse to SuperSport United in the Confed Cup in Polokwane, South Africa.
-Material from Citizen Digital used to compile this report.