Jacques Tuyisenge’s second half penalty lifted off a dark cloud of poor pre-season results by Gor Mahia as the 15-time Kenyan Premier League champions lifted the season opening KPL Super Cup with a 1-0 win over league champions Tusker FC at Nakuru’s Afraha Stadium on Sunday.
Contrary to previous years, the cup was not sponsored by DSTV and there wasn’t any cash rewards for the winners, save for trophies and medals.
But the game will go a long way into jump starting the 2017 KPL season which has endured various several false starts after court cases and conflicts between the league custodians and the Football Kenya Federation.
As the season kicks off next weekend, Tusker FC and their new head coach George ‘Best’ Nsimbe will be immensely under pressure as they aim to defend their title.
The brewers were knocked off the CAF Champions League by lowly AS Port Louis of Mauritius and the loss to Gor in the Super Cup only adds more pressure on the Ugandan.
K’Ogalo on their side have put back a glimmer of hope after having experiencing not so pleasing results in their major pre-season friendly matches.
Head coach Jose Marcelo Ferreira paraded most of his new signings in the team that faced Tusker. Defender Joash Onyango signed from Western Stima partnered Harun Shakava at the heart of defense, Musa Mohammed being pushed to the left.
Rwandese Jean Baptise Mugiraneza partnered Ernest Wendo in midfield while reigning KPL player of the year Kenneth Muguna started behind the main striker, returnee Timothy Otieno.
Gor started the match brighter and had a series of chances, with Godfrey Walusimbi seeing his shot cleared off the goal-line by Eugene Asike in the clearest chance of the opening 45.
Gor also thought they should have had a penalty after Hashim Ssempala seemed to have handled inside the box but the ref waved play on. They kept the tempo same in the second period and Muguna who had been a thorn for the Tusker defense had a long range attempt in the 55th minute but the effort was wide.
On the hour mark, Gor got the opener, Tuyisenge slamming home past experienced Tusker keeper Duncan Ochieng from the penalty spot after Timothy Otieno was axed inside the box.
Tusker only threatened with set pieces, but they were not as successful. In the final minutes of the match, Gor almost doubled their tally but substitute Philemon Otieno’s shot came off the upright.