Kenyan Premier League (KPL) giants, Gor Mahia's 33 year wait for the CECAFA Kagame Cup title will stretch further after they were eliminated at the semi finals of the 2018 tournament following a 0-2 loss at the hands of defending champions Azam at the National Stadium Dar es Salaam on Wednesday 11 July.
With an eye in the forthcoming CAF Confederations Cup against Yanga SC, Gor Mahia head coach Dylan Kerr made a double change from the squad that overcame Uganda's Vipers with the ever reliable Ernest Wendo sidelined with a groin injury picked in the same match. Wendo's absence paved way for Bernard Ondiek while Burundian striker Francis Mustapha, who scored in the Vipers win started from the bench as Ivorian Ephrem Guikan was handed a start.
The match was a repeat of the 2015 edition's final when Azam emerged champions after beating K’Ogalo 2-0. Both teams exercised caution in the opening half with neither mastering any real threat.
Shots on target
George Blackberry Odhiambo tested goalkeeper Razak Abalora with a long range effort from outside the 18 yard area but his effort was straight at the goalkeeper. Just after the first 20th minute mark former Azam midfielder Humphrey Mieno set up Bernard Ondiek whose tame effort was easily gathered by the keeper.
The two shots were the only efforts registered on target in the first for both teams, with Gor Mahia’s defense standing strong to stifle the constant attacks by Azam forwards. Dylan Kerr called on former Western Stima defender Joash Onyango from the bench to replace Ephrem Guikan as Innocent Wafula tucked in the midfield with Onyango taking the right back position.
Ugandan international Godfrey Walusimbi brought in a low cross after a lung bursting run from the left corridor but was let down by his teammates who arrived late in the box.
Gor Mahia fans had their hearts in their throats when Yahya Zayd somehow managed to beat the offside trap to run through clean on goal from the half way line but skipper Harun Shakava covered the ground to apply pressure on Zayd whose shot was too tame to trouble keeper Boniface Olouch. In the 71st minute former Nzoia Sugar midfielder Lawrence Juma was given the nod coming on for an exasperated Ondiek.
Salum Abubakar almost stole the lead for Azam with a low shot from outside the box but Olouch was on hand to save the situation and with 10 minutes left on the clock Francis Mustapha was thrown into the fray in place of George Odhiambo.
Walusimbi swung in a cross from a free kick that required a last ditch save from the Azam keeper to tip it round and send the game to extra time after a barren draw in regular time.
Azam went ahead in the 92nd minute when Ditram Nchimbi capitalized on a mix up between Momanyi and Shakava to fire in the opening goal from a volley inside the box and in the chase for an equalizer, Innocent Wafula displayed a sense of calmness in the box to take on one defender but took too much time to release his shot and when he finally did, it was blocked.
New signing Francis Mustapha went close too, hitting the woodwork with a header after Shakava picked him with a pinpoint cross.
Azam made Gor rue their missed chance when they doubled their lead in the 98th minute courtesy of Bruce Kangwa’s solo effort from a bursting run in the left flank to beat Olouch at the near post.
Lawrence Juma was unlucky not have halved the deficit for Gor on the 118th minute when his thunderbolt from long range was tipped over the bar by Ghanaian goalkeeper Abalora and in the end Azam proceeded to the final to face either Jeshi la Kujenga Uchumi or Simba who face off in the other semi final.
Starting XI: Boniface Olouch, Geoffrey Walusimbi, Charles Momanyi, Harun Shakava, Innocent Wafula, Philemon Otieno, Humphrey Mieno, George Odhiambo, Bernard Ondiek, Jacques Tuyisenge, Ephrem Guikan.
Replacements: Shaban Odhoji, Joash Onyango (45 min), Lawrence Juma (71 mins), Francis Mustapha (80 mins), Boniface Omondi, Samuel Onyango, Kevin Omondi.