In this final episode of the Khartoum Memories, I look at the last two matches of the tournament; the semi-final and final.
Game 4: Semi-Finals - El-Mereikh vs Gor Mahia FC
As usual, K'Ogalo would pray 4 times a day before any game kicked off. First when we leave the camp and board the vehicle, secondly when we disembark and third after warming up and lastly, when we are in the field just before kick off.
This Gor Mahia team consulted with Almighty God despite being called Mighty Gor Mahia. It was wonderful team for the word of God was always given a priority.
While entering the stadium for this game, the fans of the host team tried to intimidate us by splashing some coloured water on us but this did not help. We maintained the line up of the last game and what was more shocking was the referees attitude before kick off. He warned us of our behavior in Cairo against Zamalek and told us that if we dont change they will deal with us accordingly as we stood loyal.
The line up was; Tairus Omondi (1), Isaiah Omondi (2), Swaleh Ochieng (3), Bobby Ogola (4), Austin Oduor (5), Nyangi Odembo (6), William Obwaka (7), John Okello Zangi (8), Goro Oronge (9), Gideon Khamisi (10) and Ben Oloo Breakdance (11). Teams here dreaded Ahmed Breima the sudanese goalkeeper who was with El-Mereikh but to our surprise, he decided not to play against us with the excuse that he had Malaria. I was disappointed with this for i wanted to gauge his level of goalkeeping.
This game started at a cracking pace and El-Mereikh was all over us. The crowd was big and the stadium packed and bonfires lit all over. The entire field was in smoke and this confused us alot. But three men stood strong and they were Bobby Ogola, Swaleh Ochieng and Austin Oduor while Isaiah Janabi was totally overwhelmed with the flashy El-Mereikh winger.
This forced Bobby to cover Isaiah all the time. We cracked in the 10th minute and the hosts won a penalty after a foul on their player in the box. we conceded the penalty and were a goal down. Bobby started giving instructions and produced a great tackle on the player who was running circles around Isaiah and that caused great fear on the player and he was to be substituted later in the game.
The tempo of the game went down after this and Swaleh Ochieng, the most experienced player we had in the team had made his area a no go zone. This was the fastest and toughest game i lived to play in my football career. Just before half time when the tide changed, i saw an unbelievable goal come. A cross came from the right flank and i moved to the blind side expecting to head it home only for me to lack the flight but as i turned back expecting to see the ball go out, Swaleh Ochieng was airborne and headed in a perfect goal.
It was not a corner ball but Ochieng had been tracking the build up and ended up finishing it just before half time. 1-1 half time score. We did a collective prayer at half time and again before Kick off of the 2nd half. Nyasaye Konywa (God help us) 5 times were the words uttered after a short prayer.
The 2nd half started with a low tempo for El-Mereikh were now totally tamed. In a rush to score the winning goal, there was a heavy collison between me and the keeper and had to be substituted. As Hesborne Omollo came in and with his first contact with the ball, we got our second goal which was a classic one. About 20 yards was the ball and Hesborne struck it just well.
The semi final was over Gor Mahia 2-1 El Mereikh. What happened after the game was another shocker. All the Mereikh players were beaten by their fans and had to be given police escort out of the stadium.