NAKURU, Kenya- Meddie Kagere stole the show on Thursday afternoon when his brace powered Gor Mahia FC past Singida United FC 2-0 to qualify for their second successive SportPesa Super Cup final.
Cup holders Gor braved the elements in a drenched Afraha Stadium, Nakuru to dominate the match, with the Kenyans enjoying the lion’s share of possession and registering more attempts on goal.
Rwandese international Kagere shot to the top of the Super Cup scoring charts with three for the tournament and is on course to claim a second successive tournament Golden Boot after taking the honour last year by scoring thrice in as many games in Dar-es-Salaam.
His goals, coming in the 35th and 90th minutes, set up a glamour final with Simba SC who earlier edged Kakamega Homeboyz FC 5-4 in a dream Kenya versus Tanzania league champions battle.
Former Nigeria captain Yakubu Ayiegbeni was in attendance as an Everton ambassador to witness the footballing talent on display and handed the man of the match award selected by coaches from the English Premier League side to midfielder Ernest Wendo who took home a USD500 (KSh50,000) cheque.
Losing Singida will play Homeboyz in the third place play-off on Sunday, the prelude to the decider where the winner will clinch the coveted ticket of flying to the United Kingdom to play Everton FC at Goodison Park besides the USD30,000 prize money.
Star players Kagere, Jacques Tuyisenge, Wendo, Humphrey Mieno and Joash Onyango, who were rested for the opening fixture against Zanzibar league winners; Jeshi la Kujenga Uchumi who were dispatched 3-0 in the quarters started for Dylan Kerr’s titleholders.
Gor began the game more eager than their opponents, finding spaces in the midfield as they bossed the ball in the opening five.
Godfrey Walusimbi, a scorer in the quarter-final, found Kagere, who then spread it out to George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo but the winger was unlucky to see his shot go inches wide.
Moments later, Kagere set himself up for a strike that he sent blazing over the bar as Gor continued to pile up the pressure on their opponents.
Singida slowly found their way back into the game and in the 23rd Danny Lyanga found good space but could not get a finish away.
Tuyisenge and Kagere connected well in the 27th but the last touch let the latter down as Singida recovered to hack the ball clear in their own penalty area.
Walusimbi received the first yellow card of the game in the 29th for a reckless challenge but that proved to be a minor distraction for the home side who nosed in front as the rains pounded the stadium almost to submission.
Crowd favourite Kagere opened the scoring when he connected well with a Kahata corner to give Gor a deserved 1-0 lead.
Both players linked up well again in the 38th as they tried to double the advantage but a last ditch tackle from ex-SportPesa Premier League side; Tusker FC defender, Shafiq Batambuze saved Singida.
The skies opened up some more and the K’Ogalo pressure increased until the referee blew for halftime with the Kenyans a goal to the good.
Singida coach Suleiman Hemed made the first change bringing on Lubida Mundia to replace John Tibar in the 51st and they almost fashioned an equaliser six minutes later when the new man found Lyanga with a fine cross but his header was too close to Shaban Odhoji in the Gor goal.
Batambuze then found the forward again on the hour but Lyanga sent another headed effort out to touch.
Kennedy Juma of Singida was then shown a yellow card moments later for a foul on Kahata and captain Harun Shakava sent the resultant free-kick wide and the Singida man was lucky to remain on the pitch in the 64th after a reckless challenge on Philemon Otieno just outside the area.
Singida made their second change soon afterwards bringing on Salum Chuku for Kenny Ally in the hope the fresh legs would bring them back in the game.
However, Gor continued to apply the pressure and in the 68th, Kahata sent a great ball to the far post that was met by Odhiambo whose first time effort was saved by Manyika.
A minute later, Kerr and the crowd almost went wild as the referee blatantly ignored shouts for a penalty after Tuyisenge was hacked down by two Singida defenders inside the box.
His side were well and truly on their way to the final when Kagere added the gross to another commanding performance when he tucked in a second to send the crowd to delirium.
After three minutes of added time, the referee blew for full time and K’Ogalo were confirmed as the team to face Simba on Sunday at 3pm local-time (+3GMT) at the same venue.
Gor Mahia FC
16 Shaaban Odhoji, 26 Philemon Otieno, 2 Godfrey Walusimbi, 18 Harun Shakava (C), 12 Joash Onyango, 20 Ernest Wendo, 25 George Odhiambo, 30 Humphrey Mieno, 9 Jacques Tuyisenge, 22 Meddie Kagere, 8 Francis Kahata
29 Boniface Oluoch, 21 Wesley Onguso, 27 Charles Momanyi, 7 Innocent Wafula, 11 Boniface Omondi, 17 Bernard Ondiek, 24 Lawrence Juma, 19 Ephrem Guikan
Coach- Dylan Kerr- England
Singida United FC
18 Peter Jr Manyika, 4 Adam Miraji, 6 Shafik Batambuze, 5 Salum Kipanga, 15 Juma Keneddy, 27 Amara Diaby, 7 Deus Kaseke (C), 17 Yusuf Kagoma, 10 Danny Lyanga, 8 Kenny Ally, 22 Tibar John
30 Ally Mustapha, 2 Elisha Muroiwa, 12 Salum Chuku. 3 Maliki Antiri, 9 Elinywesia Sumbi, 11 Lubinda Mundia, 16 Nizar Khalian, 9 Felipe Santos
Coach- Hemed Suleiman- Tanzania