K'Ogalo crowned KPL champions

By Rodgers Eshitemi: Saturday, May 25th 2019 at 19:27 GMT +3 | Football
Gor Mahia FC are the champions of KPL 2018/19 during KPL match against Posta Rangers FC at Kenyatta stadium. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

There were joyous scenes at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on Saturday as  Gor Mahia players lifted the trophy after being officially crowned the 2018/2019 Sportpesa Premier League champions.

K'Ogalo claimed their third consecutive league title on Wednesday with two matches (70 points) to go after being held to a 1-1 draw by relegation threatened Vihiga United.

However, the 1-1 stalemate against Posta Rangers on their coronation day couldn't stop Gor players from celebrating for winning the trophy for keep.

After the trophy presentation ceremony, the jubilant Gor players and technical bench members walked around the pitch on their lap of honour with the trophy before they were later joined by a few of their travelling fans.

Gor now boast a record 18 league titles, much far ahead of their closest challengers and eternal rivals AFC Leopards, who have won the league 13 times.

The Green Army's recent dominance in the Kenyan football began way back in 2013 when they dethroned champions Tusker to end their 18-year title drought. K'Ogalo went on to clinch the 2014 and 2015 titles before Tusker temporarily stopped their dominance by reclaiming the title in 2016.

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However, like a wounded lion, the Green Army swiftly bounced-back to lift a back to back title in 2017 and 2018 seasons. Hassan Oktay's men have now kept the trophy for good after being crowned the champions for the third consecutive season on Sartuday.

Gor coach Hassan Oktay happily declared the crowning moment as one of his biggest achievements.

"I'm happy to have won the league title with Gor Mahia on my first season at the club. After Asia, this is the second time I'm winning a title. Of course, it's fantastic and I'm surely enjoying it. But I'm partially disappointed because I wanted to win it with a 15-20 points' gap," said Oktay.

"Those were my expectations with this is an amazing team that has been working hard both on and off the pitch."

Gor could have taken the lead in the fifth minute but Jockins Atudo made a last-ditch tackle to deny Erisa Ssekisambu before Nicholas Kipkurui forced a fine save from Rangers goalkeeper Gradus Ochieng.

Lanky defender Charles Momanyi then saw his glancing header miss target by inches before Kipkirui squandered a glorious chance on a one on one situation with the keeper after being released through by Francis Mustafa.

Samuel Onyango nearly gave Gor the lead in the 20th minute but poor decision making cost him the opportunity.

Mustafa then saw his long-range shot go wide on the half-hour mark after dispossessing Peter Ng'ang'a in the midfield before Onyango missed a scissor from Kipkirui's delivery.

But after a series of raids, Gor finally found the breakthrough when Bernard Ondiek reacted fast to head home on a rebound off the crossbar following Onyango's free kick.

Rangers responded immediately but Momanyi's perfect interception denied Francis Nambute an equalising chance before Felix Oluoch hit the side netting after receiving an incisive pass from Gearson Likono.

However, Ng'ang'a pulled the mailmen level on the stroke of halftime after he powered home Simon Mbugua's cross after a quickly taken free kick by experienced midfielder Joseph Mbugi.

Cercidy Okeyo thought he had put Gor back in front only for his effort to crash against the crossbar in the 55th minute before he paved way for Philemon Otieno.

Oluoch nearly spoiled Gor's celebration in the 73rd minute when he received a cross from the right flank, but skied his shot before Rangers keeper came off his line to stop substitute George Odhiambo on the opposite end.

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