DAR-ES-SALAAM, Tanzania- Gor Mahia FC made history on Sunday when they became the first-ever champions of the SportPesa Super Cup with an emphatic 3-0 victory over AFC Leopards SC in the Mashemeji Derby final at Uhuru Stadium, Dar-es-Salaam.
They will now play English Premier League (EPL) side Everton FC on July 13 at the National Stadium in Dar-es-Salaam after lifting the trophy that came with a USD30,000 winners’ cash prize.
After an exciting first half, striker Timothy Otieno ignited the final with a stylish low shot on the hour before substitute Oliver Maloba, who came on in his place, put the match beyond Ingwe when he finished a brilliant counter in the 76th minute with virtually his first touch of the ball.
Another substitute, John ‘Softie’ Ndirangu put the icing on the cake when he buried Leopards with the third in the first minute of added time to trigger frenzied celebrations among the Green Army supporters.
“The Blues will face Gor Mahia FC next month and become the first EPL team to play in Tanzania,” Everton wrote on their official Twitter handle minutes after the final.
It capped a memorable week for the SportPesa Premier League (SPL) leaders who have been untouchable in the inaugural edition of the eight-team knockout tournament, winning all their three games inside 90 minutes.
Leopards settled for the runners-up cash award of USD10,000 and will be proud of their brave run to the final that saw them beat Tanzanian sides Singida United FC and Dar giants Yanga FC in the quarters and semi finals.
In a pulsating first half, it was the record 15-time Kenyan champions Gor shaded proceedings but neither side could fashion the breakthrough.
Tournament top scorer, Meddie Kagere who was largely subdued in the opening stanza missed the chance to connect with a cross from Wellington Ochieng in the ninth minute.
A nasty collision between Gor striker Timothy Otieno and defender Abdallah Salim saw the Leopards player stretchered off after collapsing into a heap.
In the 22nd, winger George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo cut into the box from the left but his cutback was cleared by the Ingwe defence with Kagere and Otieno lurking.
Salim, who had recovered and re-joined play then rescued his side when he headed the ball over the crossbar with his keeper Ian Otieno beaten.
The resultant corner from Kenneth Muguna was wasted but Gor were back again in the 32nd when Otieno fizzled a snap shot just wide.
On the other end, Allan Kateregga who is the subject of rumoured interest by Dar giants Yanga FC unloaded a shot that was easily gathered by K’Ogalo keeper, Frederick Odhiambo.
Five minutes from the break, midfielder Francis Kahata set up Otieno but the Gor striker was let down by his first touch as the opportunity went begging.
The second half started with K’Ogalo in the ascendancy with Muguna smacking a underside of the crossbar with a wicked free-kick in the 52nd with the rebound going begging.
They did not have to wait long for the breakthrough. Eight minutes later, Otieno opened the floodgates when he raced clear from the right to beat his namesake in the Ingwe with a low finish across the keeper.
Brazilian head coach Jose Marcelo ‘Ze Maria’ who returned from holiday to take over from his assistant Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno hooked the goal scorer off in the 73rd and the second soon arrived from a devastating counter launched by Philemon Otieno sprung Odhiambo to race clear on the left flank.
The former SPL Player of the Year then delivered a pin-point pass that was buried by Maloba who had just come on before Ndirangu hammered the final nail at the death.
AFC LEOPARDS SC
STARTING XI: Ian Otieno-16, Denis Sikhayi-30, Marcus Abwao-33, Joshua Mawira-19, Salim Abdalla-15, Ramadhan Yakub-3, Bernard Mang’oli-22, Duncan Otieno-26, Gilbert Fiamenyo-17, Allan Katerega-10, Vincent Oburu-25
SUBS: Gabriel Andika-18, Mike Kibwage-12, Samuel Ndung’u-24, Haron Nyakha-8, Andrew Tololwa-29, Marselus Ingotsi-7, Paul Kiongera-5, Edwin Mukolwe-1, Whyvonne Isuza-20
GOR MAHIA FC
STARTING XI: Fredrick Odhiambo- 1, Haron Shakava-18, Innocent Wafula-14, Wellington Ochieng-4, Joash Onyango-12, Philemon Otieno-30, Francis Kahata-8, Kenneth Muguna-10, Timothy Otieno-17, Meddie Kagere-22, George Odhiambo-25
SUBS: Shabaan Odhoji-16 (GK), Bernard Odhiambo-15, Mike Simiyu-33, Anthony Mbugua-27, Amos Nondi-11, Teddy Osoki-26, John Ndirangu-21, Oliver Maloba-28