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Gor Mahia, Leopards squeeze through in Betway Cup

FOOTBALL By Rodgers Eshitemi | February 17th 2020
Kenpoly FC's Lucas Alvijo (left) and Vincent Wasambo of Kariobangi Sharks FC during their Betway Cup match at Kasarani Stadium yesterday. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Gor Mahia booked a date with Posta Rangers in next month’s round of 16 of the FKF Betway Cup after Boniface Omondi’s last gasp strike secured them a hard-fought 3-2 win against Naivas at Kasarani Stadium yesterday.

The next round ticket proved an arduous task for a full-strength K’Ogalo, but Omondi saved their blushes with a stoppage-time winner after coming twice from behind against the Division One side.

It was the same scenario in Kitale as Elvis Rupia’s goal helped record domestic cup winners AFC Leopards to overcome a resilient Elim 1-0, while holders Bandari strolled to a 2-0 victory against KSG Ogopa in Machakos.

Leopards will battle with Ushuru in the next round as Bandari tackles three-time winners Sofapaka.

Ulinzi Stars and KCB also had to dig deep to beat their respective opponents on penalties to sail through. Ulinzi saw off Luanda Villa 9-8 after a 1-1 draw, while KCB edged out Zoo Youth 4-3. Kariobangi Sharks also beat Kenpoly 2-0 in an early match at Kasarani.

Despite the victory, Gor assistant coach Patrick Odhiambo praised Naivas for giving his side a run for their money.

“It wasn’t an easy game. Despite fielding our regular players, we had to chase everything from the first minute to the end,” said Odhiambo.

“We were shocked by how things turned out especially in the first quarter. We are not used to such situations, but what helped us is experience, nothing else. We are fighting for everything this season; the Kenyan Premier League and the Cup.”

Gor dominated possession and created a couple of half-chances in the early proceedings, but their defensive frailties were once again exposed as Naivas capitalised on the errors to take a shock 2-1 first-half lead.

Though Lawrence Juma brought the record Kenyan Premier League champions back into the game with an equaliser midway through the second half before Boniface Omondi secured them a ticket to the next round, it was Joachim Oluoch’s defensive displays that left a lot to be desired.

Oluoch was at fault for both opening two goals: first, he conceded the penalty converted by Kingsley Owour for Naivas’ surprise lead in the 12th minute before he failed to shut down John Kelwish, who set up Rashid Hassan for the second goal on the stroke halftime.

Hassan restored parity for the Division One side on restart, just immediately after Tanzanian winger Dickson Ambundo had drawn level with a screamer in the 39th minute.

Gor showed intentions from the first whistle with Lawrance Juma’s angling his shot wide before Juma Balinya missed a free header from Boniface Omondi’s delivery.

Indecision then cost Balinya another scoring chance as Gor intensified their attack.

But Gor were almost punished from a defensive mistake in the tenth minute but goalkeeper Fredrick Onyango came off his line to deny Kelwish.

However, two minutes later, Owour broke the deadlock from the spot after Oluoch had tripped Newton Mugo in the box.

Gor responded immediately but Naivas defender made a superb goal-line clearance to block Balinya’s effort.

But Gor finally drew level when Dickson Ambundo dispossessed Naivas midfielder dribbled past two defenders before unleashing a thunderous shot past goalkeeper Robert Chai.

Naivas responded immediately with Hassan receiving the ball from Kelwish then shook off his marker before slotting the ball past the goalkeeper.

However, Juma brought K’Ogalo fans back to their feet with a brilliant equaliser in the 64th minute before Omondi completed their comeback with a stoppage-time winner.

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