NAKURU, Kenya- SportPesa Super Cup holders Gor Mahia FC got off to the perfect start in their quest to retain the title with a 3-0 victory over Jeshi la Kujenga Uchumi (JKU) at the Afraha Stadium in Nakuru on Sunday.
They will take on either eternal rivals AFC Leopards SC or Tanzanian outfit, Singida United FC who play their quarterfinal at the same venue on Tuesday.
Fellow SportPesa Premier League (SPL) side Kakamega Homeboyz FC earlier stunned Tanzanian giants Yanga SC 3-1 on their debut at the tournament where the winner will play English Premier League side Everton FC and earn USD30,000 (KSh3m) to make it 2-0 to Kenya in their Super Cup battle against Tanzania.
JKU got the first chance at goal in the third minute after Dali Issa sent in a cross into the Gor penalty area but Abdalla Feisal’s header went across the goal.
Gor then found their rhythm that’s been an important factor in their unbeaten season with a string of good passes that led to an Ephrem Guikan cross into the box that flew inches over Francis Kahata’s head.
The Super Cup holders kept up the pressure in the opening quarter of the game and almost had a one on one situation when Cercidy Okeyo attempted a cheeky through ball but Innocent Wafula couldn’t get on the end of it.
A Boniface Omondi corner in the 20th was met by a rising Charles Momanyi but his header went harmlessly wide as either team continued to search for that opening goal.
A minute later Gor were awarded a penalty after George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo was brought down in the box but Guikan squandered the opportunity to put his side 1-0 up as goalkeeper Mohammed Abrahman was equal to the task.
The resulting corner floated in by Kahata was met yet again by Momanyi and his effort was cleared off the line.
Kahata worked extra hard to ensure that his ball got into the danger area on the half hour mark and was calmly controlled by Odhiambo before riffling it into the top right corner to give Gor a deserved 1-0 lead.
It did not take long before Gor struck again as full back Godfrey Walusimbi hit a ferocious left footed strike from the edge of the box into the bottom left corner to give K’Ogalo a two-goal cushion with 10 minutes of the first half to play.
Kahata’s sublime touches continued to unsettle the JKU midfield and he created two successive chances for Odhiambo and Guikan who both failed to add onto the score-line, meaning Gor went into the break two goals to the good.
Gor began the second just as they had left the first, applying constant pressure resulting in a good chance by scorer Odhiambo that went inches wide, two minutes after the restart.
In the 50th, the Zanzibari champions made their first change of the game taking off captain Joseph Malik, who looked to be in pain as he walked off the pitch, to be replaced by Ali Khamis as they sought a way back into the game.
Okeyo delivered a perfect cross in the 54th that was met by Ivorian Guikan whose header went inches over the bar as the striker continuously tried to redeem himself from the earlier penalty miss.
Mohamed Amour was thrown into the fray in place of Khamis Said two minutes later but the Kenyan champions seemed unperturbed by the changes as they continued to enjoy a lions share of possession.
Coach Dylan Kerr then made a double substitution taking off Philemon Otieno for Lawrence Juma and Francis Kahata, who received a standing ovation from the fans, being replaced by striker Meddie Kagere.
A minute later, the British tactician brought another two pairs of fresh legs in the form of Wesley Onguso and Bernard Ondiek in place of both goalscorers George Odhiambo and Godfrey Walusimbi.
Wafula, who had been having a great game on the Gor Mahia flank, picked out Boniface Omondi with a deft chip into the area in the 69th minute but the latter was unlucky to see his effort go wide of the target.
The crowd was thrown into a frenzy in the 81st when two substitutes combined to give Gor a commanding 3-0 lead.
Bernard Ondiek whipped in a fast-paced cross into the penalty box that was met with a diving header by Kagere that flew into the bottom right corner, further asserting that the holders were on their way into the semis.
The goal was followed by a substitution from the JKU bench as Haji Suleiman Haji replaced Hussein Juma, with the technical bench all but seeking a consolation goal to save face as they return home.
The Kenyans followed suit taking off former Tusker midfielder Cercidy Okeyo and bringing on goal-machine Jacques Tuyisenge for the final five minutes of the game.
Wafula then skipped past two defenders to unleash a right-footed attempt at goal which the goalkeeper easily gathered as the fourth official raised the board to signal for two minutes to be added on after the 90.
The last chance of the game fell for the illustrious Omondi who was put through with a fantastic through ball but didn’t quite get it right as his shot went flying over the bar.
Gor Mahia FC
Shabaan Odhoji 16, Innocent Wafula 7, Godfrey Walusimbi 2, Harun Shakava 18, Charles Momanyi 27, Cercidy Okeyo 10, Boniface Omondi 11, Philemon Otieno 26, Ephrem Guikan 19, George Odhiambo 25, Francis Kahata 8
Boniface Oluoch 29, Wesley Onguso 21, Joash Onyango 12, Humphrey Mieno 30, Ernest Wendo 20, Lawrence Juma 24, Jacques Tuyisenge 9, Meddie Kagere 22
Jeshi la Kujenga Uchumi FC
Mohammed Mohammed 30, Pension Joseph 2, Edward Mayunga 16, Mwinjuma Suleiman 17, Issa Dau 23, Feisal Abdullah 3, Mbarouk Faki 11, Ishak Omar 8, Nassor Juma 9, Khamis Khamis Said 5, Suwed Hussein 20
Haji Ali 18, Khamis Ali 15, Khamis Khamis Khalid 25, Haji Haji 4, Amour Mohammed 13, Salum Salum 28, Hassan Mgeni 26, Khatib Amour 22