Kenyan champions Gor Mahia have confirmed their spot as Group D winners and booked a quarterfinal date with high flying Green Eagles of Zambia in the ongoing CECAFA Club Championships.
By trouncing Kikosi Maalum ya Kuzuia Magendo (KMKM) of Zanzibar 1-0 in Rubavu, Rwanda on Sunday, Mahia picked nine points from winning all three group matches and drew Green Eagles who finished second in Group C behind APR of Rwanda.
K’Ogalo left it late before youngster Erick Ombija, a graduate from Gor Youth, popped up with a winning header four minutes from time to down the hard fighting KMKM. The Kenyan club had already qualified for the last eight going into the fixture but needed a point to cement top spot and hopefully get a favorable draw in the quarters.
A draw would have sufficed and Coach Hassan Oktay named a squad comprising four new signings and three youngsters. Oktay also deployed Wellington Ochieng, a natural right back on the left and Samuel Onyango, a forward at left back.
The selection, makeshift in nature, accounted for lack of fluidity in K’Ogalo’s play as they struggled to punish the Zanzibar anti-counterfeit agency team. The first half was drab, marked by crude challenges that saw South Sudanese referee dish out four yellow cards and a red one to KMKM midfielder Samir Yahya.
Among the recipients of yellow cards were Ernest Wendo who clattered into Yahya with his knee catching Yahya in the abdomen. The incident saw Oktay launch a tirade at the 4th official who promptly advised the center referee to book the Turk.
Yahya then contrived to get booked when he launched at Wendo in apparent retaliatory challenge one minute after coming back onto the pitch from treatment. His hot head earned him a sending off two minutes later when he put in another rash, bookable offense as KMKM ended the half with ten men.
K’Ogalo withdrew Wendo at the start of the second half and introduced Lawrence Juma. The Kenyan club failed to turn their dominance into goals by resolute defending by KMKM. Even the introduction of Nicholas Kipkirui still failed to spark K’Ogalo.
Their wait was finally ended by Erick Ombija who met Hashim Sempala’s cross from the left and nodded past an onrushing KMKM goalkeeper four minutes from time. The Zanzibar side exit the tournament without a point while Gor Mahia completed three wins in three heading into the quarterfinal.