– K’Ogalo overcame an early setback after the Kenyan Premier League leaders found themselves a goal down after five minutes after defender Dirkir Glay put the ball in his own net, to score twice through defender Harun Shakava and striker Michael Olunga in a thrilling match which the hosts finished with 10 men.
Kenyan champions Gor Mahia on Saturday rallied from a goal down to floor pre-tournament favourites and hosts Yanga SC 2-1 in their opening match of the Cecafa Club Championship tournament at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.
K’Ogalo overcame an early setback after the Kenyan Premier League leaders found themselves a goal down after five minutes after defender Dirkir Glay put the ball in his own net, to score twice through defender Harun Shakava and striker Michael Olunga in a thrilling match which the hosts finished with 10 men.
Shakava scored the equaliser after heading past Yanga keeper Ally Mustafa from a Karim Nizigiyimana free-kick after Godfrey Walusimbi had been brought down on the left flank in the 18th minute before Olunga grabbed the headlines with the winner a minute after the breather.
“These are only three points. It doesn’t mean that we shall have the remaining group matches any easier. Playing with an extra man always has a psychological effect, but Yanga were tough opponents” K’Ogalo coach Frank Nuttall said after the match.
Yanga were heavy favourites coming into the match, but their casual approach to the match raised questions on whether they had claimed undue respect from their opponents.
Coach Nuttall opted for a refreshed lineup that had Innocent Wafula and Dirkir Glay start ahead of Ali Abondo and the injured Collins Okoth, while Yanga had the reliable Andre Countinho and Godfrey Mwashiuya lying in wait in the reserves bench.
Yanga fans, who had filled one half of the stadium, were first to celebrate success after Glay slid in an own goal just five minutes into the match.
Glay had attempted to destroy a dangerous attacking effort from winger Donald Ngoma, but his mistimed clearance ended up sending the ball past goalkeeper Boniface Oluoch.
After this, it took the local champions 12 minutes of trying before Shakava delivered the equaliser by rising highest to head in Nizigiyimana pin-point delivery.
The game then took a significant turning point in the 23rd minute when Zambia winger Donald Ngoma received a second yellow card for smacking Shakava, and he was subsequently escorted to the locker rooms by his team manager amid loud cheers from the Simba SC fans. The Zimbabwean striker had earlier been shown yellow card for tugging Gor Mahia midfielder Aboubakary Sibomana’s shirt.
In the remaining 24 minutes of the first half, Yanga recorded only one shot on target, while the Michael Olunga threatened consistently for his team.
In the 32nd minute, the 21-year-old found himself unmarked in front of Yanga’s goal, and he almost doubled the scoring but his shot went over the bar.
Olunga was felled inside the box in the 37th minute, but referee Ssali Mashood waved off his penalty appeal.
The two teams went into the dugout to raucous applause from their respective supporters and barely a minute after resumption, Olunga nicked the ball from the opponent’s defenders and rushed homewards before rolling it calmly into the net to hand K’ogalo the lead.
Yanga coach Hans van der Plujim brought in Kpah Sherman for the tiring Simon Msuva in a bid to sharpen his front line but this proved unfruitful against the unrelenting K’Ogalo defence.
Yanga captain Nadur Haroub missed a penalty in the second half after Shakava had handled the ball in the box, with Oluoch picking his poorly taken “panenka” before releasing Olunga for an unfruitful counter attack on the opposite end.
The match then ended at a 2-1 in Gor Mahia’s favour over Yanga.
In the day’s first match at the same venue, Rwanda’s APR beat Sudan’s Al Ahly Shandy 1-0. Djihad Bizimana scored the all-important goal for APR, who finished as runners-up in last year’s event in Kigali.