By: CELLESTINE OLILO
Kenyan champions Gor Mahia will play Tanzania’s Azam on Sunday in the final of the 2015 Cecafa Club Championships in Dar es Salaam.
Gor reached the final after bruising aside Al Khartoum from Sudan 3-1 in Friday’s first semi-final match played at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam. Azam beat Uganda’s KCCA 1-0 in the second semi-final match.
Azam’s Farid Musa scored the lone goal of the match in the second-half when he was teed off by midfielder Ammy Ali and he smashed the ball inside the match, commanding a standing ovation from the Tanzanian fans.
Sunday’s final will be preceded by a play-off match between KCCA and Al-Khartoum. Michael Olunga, Innocent Wafula and Meddie Kagere provided the goals for Gor Mahia after Al Khartoum captain Amin Ibrahim had scored in the second minute of the match. It was a victory that caused Scottish tactician Frank Nuttall to jump into the arms of assistant coach Frank Ouna after the final whistle. Al Khartoum’s Anthony Akumu, formerly of Gor Mahia, pulled away from his crestfallen team mates and joined his former team mates in a prayer on the pitch.
With this win, K’Ogalo have confirmed their place in the tournament finals for the first time since 1985 something that was a very distant dream just two weeks ago.
They will come up against Azam in the final.
“Our target changed the moment we won the quarter-finals. After that match, we reassessed our goals and now we are looking forward to produce a top performance on Sunday and hopefully win the league (KPL),” Nuttall said.
“We shot ourselves in the foot early in the match but I’m happy that the players reorganised themselves well and scored three goals afterwards,” Nuttall said after the match.
Khartoum had a false start after Ibrahim took advantage of the unsettled K’Ogalo squad to send the ball past goalkeeper Boniface Oluoch.
The Kenyan champions took 25 minutes to recover and in the 27th minute, they landed a penalty after goal scorer Amin raised his hands inside the box in an attempt to block an incoming cross from Walusimbi. Olunga took the resultant penalty, sending a rasping shot into the top right corner, Al Khartoum goalkeeper well beaten.
Invigorated by the result, Olunga troubled Al Khartoum’s defence a minute later before dispatching a pass to midfielder Innocent Wafula who finished it off with a spectacular thunderbolt.
OLUOCH STOOD FIRM
Omar Ali Alkidir and Samawal Merghani tried to bring Al Khartoum back into the game, but Oluoch and his defending trio of Musa Mohammed, Karim Nizigiyimana and Abouba Sibomana stood firm.
After the restart, Meddie Kagere extended the scores once again. Rwandan left back Sibomana had drawn out the goalkeeper before passing the ball to the awaiting Olunga.
Olunga, who was subdued by Khartoum defenders, switched the ball onto the right wing for Kagere to nod home.
Ten minutes into the second-half, Khartoum coach Kwesi Appiah hauled off defender Salah Eldin and captain Amin Ibrahim and brought in midfielders Nagimedin Abdalla and Ousman Bilala in their place.
This however bore no fruits as the scores remained unchanged at the final whistle, effectively relegating Khartoum to the play offs and instantly admitting K’Ogalo into the final of the tournament.
“In a game of football when you are playing at such high level, you have to concentrate throughout the match because the moment you lose concentration, you give the opponent a chance to catch up with you,” Khartoum coach Kwesi Appiah said.
“That is what happened to us today. All the three goals came as a result of lack of concentration on my defenders.”