Gor Mahia faltered at the last step as they lose to technically superior Azam in a difficult CECAFA Kagame cup final.
BY STEVE NJUGUNA
Gor Mahia continue their 30 year old CECAFA Kagame cup drought after losing to Tanzanian side Azam in a packed National stadium in Dar es Salaam. The presence of former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga who is an ardent Gor Mahia fan, as well as controversial politician Moses Kuria did not deter Azam from subjecting their rather illustrious opponents to their first defeat in the tournament.
The game started quickly as Azam capitalized on the fact that Gor Mahia usually start slow in their games and pinned the Kenyans back in the first minutes of the exchange. It paid off in the 17th minute when lethal striker John Bocco (who is also the captain for the Azam side) took a cross from the right hand side from his Ivorian strike partner Kipre Tchetche. The goal seemed to spur the Gor Mahia players as they begun foraging forward in such of an equalizer.
Tournament top scorer Michael Olunga was marked heavily and so was his striking partner Meddie Kagere but marauding winger Innocent Wafula looked dangerous testing Azam goalkeeper Salum Manula with a ferocious drive on the stroke of halftime.
Gor continued with their push forward in the second half though the game was becoming increasingly physical as Gor Mahia midfield duo Eric Ochieng and Khalid Aucho were lucky to stay on the pitch after a series of dangerous fouls and elbows towards their Tanzanian opponents.
The death blow came in the 63rd minute after Khalid Aucho conceded a free kick on the edge of his box. The set piece was dispatched by Ivorian forward Kipre Tchetche into the back of the net though Gor Mahia goalkeeper Boniface Oluoch will have himself to blame as he misjudged the shot thinking it was going out only to see it flying into his net.
The win was Azam’s first CECAFA Kagame cup triumph as the team coached by British coach Stewart Hall narrowly missed out on the title in 2012 losing in the final. As for K’ogalo, their long wait continues as they have not won the cup since 1985. In the day’s other fixture, KCCA of Uganda won the race for third place against Al Khartoum of Sudan and the Ugandans bagged a prize of 10,000 U.S. dollars while Gor earned 20,000 dollars and Azam pocketed 30,000.