Nyakeya show dampens Gor KPL party
Cliff Nyakeya scored one and orchestrated the other as Mathare United fought back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Gor Mahia FC on their Kenyan Premier League (KPL) coronation party in Kisumu.
Jacques Tuyisenge who was seeking at least two goals to close in on the golden boot, needed just one seven minutes into the match as he rounded goalkeeper Job Ochieng for the opener.
Midfielder Humphrey Mieno made it 2-0 and it looked the champions were cruising for a dream finish to their KPL season only for Klinsmann Omulanga and Nyakeya to restore parity with goals in the 66th and 79th minutes.
Gor head coach Dylan Kerr did not hide his disappointment at the end of the match, saying he had wanted a win for the season finale.
Kerr had said the match was a great opportunity to end their sorry five-match losing streak in all competitions, and to give the K’Ogalo family a reason to smile.
To emphasise his seriousness for the match, he paraded his best for Mathare. Notably, Kerr trusted Raphael Asudi with the left-back role ahead of Wellington Ochieng, while the rest of the first team regulars were started for the season grand finale.
Making a comeback, Ivorian Ephrem Guikan paired Tuyisenge in the attack as George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo supplied from the left flank with Francis Kahata running the business on the right wing.
The Kerr men however were meeting a Mathare side whose coach Francis Kimanzi, just before the match, expressed though in a calm way, his desire to spoil the party for Gor despite paying tribute to them for winning the league just early.
He would somehow get it right, as evidenced by Kerr’s fury to his players who he said did not give the best in the game.
Kimanzi, in a nutshell, said his charges capitalized in their special moments of the game to the job, the job of holding 17-time champions in the highly billed duel.
Kisumu was painted green as early as 12:00pm by the Gor fans, who by the time of the first whistle had fairly filled the stadium, spicing the mood that indeed it was coronation day.
Dances, songs, hilarious dressings and funny paraphernalia by a section of them could only add to the simmering heat in the stadium, with temperatures hitting 28 degrees Celsius by the time the first whistle was blown.
Of course, it was after Mathare mounting a guard of honor for Gor, the unofficial champions by then.
Just in the first minute, Chrispin Oduor had been found in the Gor’s box, having beaten an offside trap by Harun Shakava and Joash Onyango but stopped using his hand, wasting a glorious chance to light it up early.
In the third, Tuyisenge thought he had won a penalty after being brought down in the box, but the referee’s call was for his offside after Mieno picking him from the centre.
Despite packing five of his first 11 in the midfield, Kimanzi’s men could not concentrate enough to cut through balls to Tuyisenge and Guikan.
In the eighth, Tuyisenge opened the scores with an easy goal, after being picked unmarked by Asudi just outside the box to round goalkeeper Job Ochieng before burying it home in an empty net.
Four minutes later, a fast Nyakeya should have restored parity had he beaten Gor’s custodian Fredrick Odhiambo to the ball, who came off his line to block the striker who had escaped Asudi’s attention.
Clifford Alwanga had the first short on target for Mathare in the 20th, shooting powerfully from 25 yards but could not beat Odhiambo.
In the 25th Samuel Olwande cleared Guikan’s attempt off the line, who had danced around keeper Ochieng before rolling it on the left corner after being set up by Tuyisenge, who had received a perfect pass from Francis Kahata.
As the players went for their second water break at the half hour mark, both coaches from a distance could not hide their emphasis for more aggression upfront.
It was Kerr’s charges who appeared to have assimilated the urge better, as Blackberry missed narrowly soon after the restart having beaten the golie with a clever ball to the right post that penetrated through a forest of Mathare defenders’ legs.
Alwanga had a chance to put matters level just before the half-time call only to be fouled by the last man Onyango in the box, but his appeals for a penalty fell in deaf ears of centre referee Davies Omweno.
Five minutes into the second stanza Kimanzi withdrew a seemingly injured Alwanga for Omulanga, seeking to add more strength in the attack.
As if the substitution was a bad omen for Mathare, they were punished yet again for Gor’s second in the 53rd, Mieno capitalizing on a poorly cleared corner-ball to slot in past Ochieng. An unsuccessful close header attempt by Shakava to redirect the ball aiding to confuse the goalkeeper.
Kerrr then threw former Ulinzi Stars attacker Samuel Onyango into the fray for Guikan, opting to have Tuyisenge striking alone with more suppliers behind him.
Kimanzi countered the change with introduction of Daniel Mwaura for Ndonye Alphonce who had a dull day in office, failing to deliver his trademark crosses from the left channel.
Mwaura’s presence was felt immediately, doing all the donkey work including dodging Odhiambo who had left an empty goal before cutting back for Omulanga to slot it in the 67th.
As a caution, Kerr tossed his last dice, bringing on Francis Mustapha and Charles Momanyi for Blackberry Odhiambo and Asudi respectively.
Mathare were not to give up, and Omulanga won a penalty while contesting for an aerial ball with Joash Onyango, who pushed him down recklessly forcing Omweno to point straight to the spot.
Nyakeya executed it perfectly, sending Odhiambo the wrong way to put at 2-2 in the 77th.
Nothing would turn for better in the Gor’s side, as Mustapha limped out in the last five minutes leaving Gor with 10 men as Kerr had exhausted his substitutes.
The draw did not however kill completely the joy of lifting the trophy for the third time in a row, Harun Shakava doing it in the presence of former Prime Minister Raila Odinga among other dignitaries.