Gor Mahia on Thursday night put one foot in the final of the Kenyan Premier League Top Eight tournament after a 1-0 win over Tusker in the first leg of their semi-final at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.
Tusker defender Jockins Atudo handled in the box in the 35th minute and his opposite number, Ivan Anguyo, converted to send K’Ogalo faithful into wild celebrations in a match played under floodlights.
Gor fans defied the chilly night and turned out in large numbers at Kasarani and when two-time KPL referee of the year, Isaac Ochieng’, blew the final whistle, ensured they proceed to next Thursday’s second leg at City Stadium with an edge over their opponents.
Earlier, Enock Agwanda’s 90th minute-goal earned Sony Sugar a 1-1 draw against Ulinzi in the first leg of their semi-final at theb same venue.
The sugar millers were forced to wait until stoppage time for the Under-23 forward to power home from the edge of the box and consequently cancel Ulinzi’s fourth minute advantage.
George Otieno had scored for the soldiers in a similar fashion four minutes into the match.
To the delight of their fans, Sony’s defending and attack was solid but their striking was poor.
Zedekiah Otieno’s charges were unlucky not to score earlier as both Agwanda and Victor Onyango broke through but were denied by a blunt finish and the crossbar as Ulinzi goalkeeper Jackton Odhiambo impressed between the posts.
Aiming to defend their title, champions Ulinzi were under strict instructions to get a convincing win. And they started the match in a manner befitting a champion, controlling the pace of the match.
Despite lacking in pace, Ulinzi’s Wyclife Ochomo was a constant threat upfront.
Stuck to their game plan
Sony custodian, Wilson Obungu was stretched to the limit by Agwanda and later, Anthony Nderitu came close to scoring but the sugar men religiously stuck to their game plan.
Blurs of red kept throwing themselves before Agwanda’s dancing feet but he beat Ulinzi defender Geoffrey Kokoyo late in the match to score the equaliser after his team trailed the soldiers for 89 minutes. Coach Otieno was happy with the draw.
“I’m happy with the results. This shows that the boys have the character to fight. For them to come from behind and get a point was impressive,” Otieno said.
“We are now focusing on the return leg next week.”
Ulinzi head to next Wednesday’s return leg at Nyayo as clear favourites and captain Evans Amuoka remained optimistic his side would bounce back.