If there’s anything Gor Mahia FC Coach Dylan Kerr should take from his afternoon out in Kisumu, an eventful one as his side did a double over Muhoroni Youth FC, is that there is no point of dominating a match only to crumble at the later stages. When you take over as a new coach, one always shies away from immediately dismissing a team’s present system- at least for a team that is performing, and watching Gor’s 2-1 win over Muhoroni Youth on Saturday 19th it’s clear that the Englishman remains comfortable with three men at the back. That however is not the problem. His predecessor after all had zero extravagance at the back too. How to hold on to a lead is what should be on Coach Kerr’s mind right now.
Muhoroni could have completed their comeback on Saturday had the two goal-mouth melee’s (resulting from set-plays) been converted between the 88th and the final minutes. Having been on the back-foot the entire match, the beleaguered side could have replicated Ulinzi’s comeback on July 2nd at the same venue, and further stressed the need for proper adjustments to Gor Mahia’s 3-5-2 formation when defending. While goals mostly result from an outnumbering of the opposition, Gor’s case could very well be the opposite- too many numbers? Or just mediocre positioning? The answer clearly lies in the Coach’s next training session. In here, he might need to demonstrate why Collins Agade and Ambrose Ayoyi’s crosses were defended not by sheer luck but by the tactical soundness of his team. Rant ends here.
Formations | Muhoroni Youth 4-1-2-3 (4-5-1) | Gor Mahia 3-5-2 (A few flashes of 4-4-2 while defending)
Now Muhoroni Youth may be at the bottom of the log at the moment yet remains the only side to confidently try and build from the back for the entirety of a match. Any lumping of the ball forward is mainly due to pressure from opposition forwards. This is where Gor Mahia had the hosts of the day. Starting twin strikers in a 3-5-2 formation, Jacques Tuyisenge and Timothy Otieno’s double press of the Muhoroni back-line meant the home team would not build from the back. Francis Kahata and Boniface Omondi closed down on Collins Agade- the Muho man solely charged with dropping deep to help start build-up. The result- at least in the opening exchanges, was that either Faina Jacobs or Indimuli Robert would kick long and the second aspect of the 3-5-2 formation comes into play. Of the three remaining at the back, it is always prudent to have two astute ball players. Gor Mahia fielded three.
The haphazardly cleared Muho ball will be returned in kind by either Musa Mohammed or Harun Shakava- this time, with purpose. Karim Nzigiyimana at this time is at his advanced full-back position and was for a better part of the first half, the recipient of these. Muhoroni, starting out in a 4-1-2-3 formation, had to drop its wingers deep and for a better portion of the match had to keep five players in the middle of the park.
Coach James Odijo Omondi looked to have wanted to play out in the wings but five men for Gor at the middle of the park saw his wingers Mudoola Faruk and Ambrose Ayoyi join Agade, Maxwell Onyango and Bliss Kityo in the midfield. Only Hassan Kikoyo was to stay upfront. He would not see much of play, a contrast to his opposite numbers who- by having their own centre-backs bypass the midfield through long searching balls, had a field day on the breakaways. It is at this point that I should mention Timothy Otieno should have had the easiest hat-trick of his career on Saturday- by the half time break even.
The immense pressure accrued from the opening exchanges aided Gor (and Timothy) to a quick-fire brace between the 22nd and 27th minutes.
Francis Kahata and Boniface Omondi’s defensive roles come into play with the first goal. The two, charged with drawing out the opposition full-backs, had done this pretty well and by the time Kahata and Jean Baptiste Mugiraneza corner midfielder Maxwell Onyango at the center left, his right-back Robert Odhiambo is well out of his line. Kahata then releases Tuyisenge to the empty left flank (Muho’s right) and the Rwandese floats one for Timothy Otieno who will only need a tap-in for the lead.
A minute before the second goal came, Muho should have by now read that their high line at the back- aimed at going for the equalizer-would prove detrimental. Boniface Omondi robbed Faruk Mudoola of the ball in Gor’s defensive half before initiating quick triangular passes between Shakava, Philemon Otieno and himself to further frustrate the Ugandan winger. Philemon’s breakaway pass is the end of the brief one-two touches and it finds both Timothy and Tuyisenge in the off-side position.They had both beaten the high wall but unfortunately not the off-side trap.
A few second after this Philemon once again wins another ball off of Kityo. Timothy Otieno is on the end of his eventual through ball and with just the keeper to beat, rounds Gradus Ochieng for his brace.
Muhoroni’s consolation goal- notched in the dying minutes for the game, would be similar to Gor’s first only that theirs is a plain counter attack with left-back Mudenyu Robert on the end of an Ayoyi delivery.
On goals and chances created, if Muho had created a quarter of the chances the visitors had for the day, it would have been theirs to lose. Not so many chances came to Coach Odijo’s side.
What won it for Gor
First to have Tuyisenge and Timothy both upfront with one obviously good in the air meant both opposition centre-backs would be under pressure the whole time (even when the ball was with Harun Shakava on the opposite end. The size of Kisumu’s Moi Stadium helps a lot to this regard.) Tuyisenge for the most part would hold possession while inviting Timothy into play. Either Boniface Omondi or Kahata would drop inside depending on which full-back had advanced (Wellington Ochieng or Karim Nzigiyimana). The result here was an outnumbering of Muhoroni with just a single pass played from the back.
It is a rule of the thumb that for a three man back-line to flourish, a team must have wing-backs who can totally run their lungs out in the full length of a match. Karim made the most of these trips and probably had to defend only half the time he spent in attack. Francis Kahata on the left helped Wellington Ochieng even out Ambrose Ayoyi’s threat while combining well with Mugiraneza whenever need to break away fast arose. It’s fair to mention that even though primarily tasked with defending on the day, Ochieng one or two times lunged forward and was the recipient of a deliciously floated Musa Mohammed diagonal pass in the 18th minute. It’s a shame his perfect control of the ball didn’t count for much as Muho soon won it back.
Where Muhoroni Lost it/Could Have won it
Muho, for all the aesthetics with which they endow upon the game of football, need to create scoring opportunities. Bliss Kityo and Ambrose Ayoyi have proven before that they can indeed score a goal when chance presents itself. The chance created towards the Mudenyu goal was one Gor had created numerous times before yet failing to convert. They capitalized on theirs to reduce the deficit only a little too late.
Former Gor Mahia Youth man Daniel Otieno and Venval Thomas’ entry added the aspect of speed to Muho. They could now go forward with purpose and Gor Mahia retreating to their defensive half eased their cause a little more. The two had come on for Bliss Kityo and Hassan Kikoyo.
Gor Mahia withdrew Boniface Omondi for 2016 Premiership MVP Kenneth Muguna to a central midfield that already contained Philemon and Mugiraneza. Cover from the two gifted Muguna with the freedom to rove behind either wing as he is never typically a wide player. It should not look like Gor did not attack in the second half, they did. Wendo Ernest replacing Kahata now had Muguna with three central midfielders behind him, enough license to advance. His combination with Timothy and Meddie Kagere (replaced Tuyisenge) could only bear a couple of close chances.
Muhoroni Youth need to create chances, Gor on the other hand need to cut ties with late drama.