The difference between regular continental tournament attendees and mere domestic league competitors was on clear display on Sunday at the Moi International Sports Center in Kasarani where Gor Mahia beat AFC Leopards 3-1 in their SportPesa Premier League match.
The result saw K’Ogalo complete a double over their eternal rivals Ingwe, whom they fondly refer to as in-laws.
Hosts AFC Leopards, who came into the match with an impressive record reading just two losses in 13 games, turned in a powerful first half display, but they were lacking in drive and perseverance and ended up conceding three goals in the match.
The three points were a routine pick for the champions, who have won in five of the last six Mashemeji Derbies.
But the extra sweetness of the victory was the joyous fact that the Green Army are now just one point away from putting the league title race to bed.
A point in their next match against Vihiga United in Machakos next week will see Gor crowned champions for an unprecedented 18th time, and with two games still left to play.
“This did not look like a derby. I can’t believe it. Apart from the numbers, it is impossible to know that this was a derby.
“We dominated the game, we created and missed many chances, were able to play great football. They (AFC Leopards) didn’t give us the expected competition.
“I even refused to speak to media people because I thought this would be a really tough match so I retreated to prepare for war. But I’m surprised. The challenge was so minimal,” said Gor Mahia’s Turkish Cypriot Coach Hasan Oktay.
Nicholas Kipkurui opened the scoring in the 23rd minute, before grabbing his brace in the 61st minute. Rwandan import Jacques Tuyisenge scored the third one for Gor in the 65th minute, before Vincent Oburu managed a consolation goal for Ingwe in the dying minutes of the game.
Prior to the match, both sets of players carried placards bearing the images of lost children looking for their parents in a show of great concern and empathy for the kids currently separated from their parents.
Francis Kahata, ever so dangerous with set pieces, started to threaten early and didn’t relent. At least for the better part of the first stanza.
Ingwe’s new signing David “Cheche” Ochieng struggled terribly in the defensive midfield position that is a little distinct from the central defensive position where he has been known to flourish.
The scales tipped for the first time in the 23rd minute when Kipkurui collected a pass form Jacques Tuyisenge and headed it home for the first goal of the match.
This, however was a false reflection of the first half hour, because Ingwe had been the better part of the two teams, and had done well to stick to their strategy of blocking out Francis Kahata and Ernest Wendo.
Deadly winger Paul Were switched to the right wing with Brian Marita moving to the left wing shortly afterwards as the hosts searched for an equaliser.
Sixteen minutes into the second half, Saad Tsuma gave away possession to Nicholas Kipkurui in a costly move that saw the latter rush home with the ball, before netting home much to the jubilee of the Gor Mahia fans.
Four minutes later, Rwandans Jacques Tuyisenge, who had been an integral part of all the goals, grabbed one of his own by tapping in easily past an overwhelmed goalkeeper Ezekiel Owade.
A wayward pass from Joash Onyango in the last few minutes of the game saw Vincent Oburu intercept, before shooting straight home to sliver his team’s consolation goal.