Gor Mahia were on Sunday crowned the 2018 SportPesa Premier League champions at Moi Stadium, Kisumu, in what was another day of history making for the Kenyan giants.
Prior to the coronation, the defending champions were held to a 2-2 draw by a hard-fighting Mathare United at the same venue in their penultimate match of the 2018 season.
Rwandese import Jacques Tuyisenge and Humphrey Mieno were on target for Gor while Mathare’s goals were scored by substitute Klinsman Omulanga and Cliff Nyakeya.
Like the norm with Gor’s supporters, they turned in their numbers with all kinds of paraphernalia, painting the Lake side city green before converging at the stadium, to witness their team’s coronation for the 17th time.
K’Ogalo had successfully defended the title with six games to go, and Sunday’s draw takes their points tally to 72.
The club’s patron, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga was the chief guest at the event, with other dignitaries present being Gor’s chairman Ambrose Rachier and Kisumu Deputy Governor Mathews Owili.
And when skipper Harun Shakava lifted the trophy aloft after receiving it from Odinga, the jubilant fans responded with a rapturous roar, paying tribute to the Dylan Kerr-led team after another year of unmatched dominance.
Looking to put a smile on their supporters faces after their recent poor run, K’Ogalo begun the encounter strong, taking a deserved lead after nine minutes through Tuyisenge.
The Rwandan easily slotted the ball into the back of the net with a low drive to the left of the goal post, after finding himself with Mathare’s goalkeeper Job Ochieng as the only man to beat.
The forward was on his way to adding a second a few minutes later but he flagged offside, before Mathare threatened to cancel the host’s lead from the right wing.
The early goal seemed not to have dampened the visitors spirits as they took the game to Gor’s side, forcing Kerr’s defenders led by skipper Shakava to be alert.
David Owino reacted fast to save Mathare from conceding a second goal in the 24th minute when he cleared the ball from Ephrem Guikan legs, just when the Ivorian was preparing to strike with his left foot.
George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo was unlucky with his 35th minute attempt from the left as it missed the target by a few inches, with Ochieng already beaten, before Tuyisenge’s header went off target.
Mathare head coach Francis Kimanzi was the first to make a change, bringing in Omulanga for Clifford Alwanga in the 49th minute, but, it was not long before his side fell 2-0 down.
Mieno turned well to beat Ochieng with a shot from the centre of the crowded box, after collecting a loose ball from George Odhiambo’s delivery from a corner.
Mathare then created two successive chances but were denied by Fredrick Odhiambo’s at Gor Mahia’s goal who had not been tested for the better part of the duel.
Substitute Omulanga halved Gor’s lead in the 69th minute with a cool finish that hit bar before crossing the line, before goal keeper Odhiambo made another crucial save to deny his former employers an equaliser.
Kerr made a double substitution two minutes later, resting George Odhiambo for Francis Mustafa and Charles Momanyi for the injured Rafael Asudi.
A mistake by defender Joash Onyango to push Omulanga when he went up inside the box to head the ball cost Gor the win as Nyakeya made no mistake from the spot nine minutes from time.
Kerr decried the manner in which his side gave away the win but thanked the players for clinching the title despite the tight scheduled that they had.
“We were on top of things but conceded two goals which ought not to have happened because we came in Kisumu to win and thank our fans for their support,” said Kerr.