Heroics from goalkeeper Gad Mathews earned Gort Mahia their first Football Kenya Federation Cup since 2012 and their 10th in history after beating arch rivals AFC Leopards 4-1 on post match penalties in the final at the Nyayo National Stadium on Sunday evening.
The game had to be decided straight on penalties after a barren stalemate in regulation time, and Mathews stopped two penalties as K’Ogalo booked themselves a ticket to next season’s CAF Confederation Cup.
Mathews saved two penalties back to back, his leg plucking out AFC captain Isaac Kipyegon’s attempt as the defender chose to go straight down through the middle. The Gor keeper then dived to his right to punch away Said Tsuma’s penalty with the AFC midfielder’s body language even before taking the kick selling him out.
Gor were comfortable on the driver’s seat with Sydney Ochieng and Kenneth Muguna scoring their first two penalties.
Heading to the third round of kicks, AFC gave themselves some hope with Washington Munene scoring just after Clifton Miheso had converted his. However, substitute keeper Ezekiel Owade could not do much to stop Gor’s fourth kick with Samwel Onyango scoring to hand Gor the title.
AFC had made goalkeeping changes at the stroke of 90 minutes bringing in the perceived penalty specialist in keeper Owade for John Oyemba, but the move backfired as he was sent the wrong way in all of Gor’s kicks.
“I a really proud of my players. It is not just the first trophy for me here, but this is for the players, the fans and the management after a difficult season. We have fought for this despite a tight schedule and I am proud of the team that we have won,” an elated Carlos Manuel vaz Pinto, Gor Mahia’s head coach said after the match.
IN normal time, the bulk of chances and possession fell in AFC’s path, but they could not do much to make it count.
As early as the sixth minute, Leopards were already prowling and striker Elvis Rupia was denied by the crossbar when he outmuscled Harun Shakava at the edge of the box before driving in and rifling a powerful shot that beat Mathews.
Leopards were dangerous from the onset but the final third was where the difference was as they could not make their danger count for goals. Rupia, closely marked by Gor skipper Harun Shakava and Harrison Mwenda on the wings were enterprising but the chances were few and far in between.
Gor didn’t have many scoring opportunities and their only effort on goal was in the 33rd minute when Karim Nikiema sent a low drive from the edge of the area, but his shot rolled straight into keeper John Oyemba’s arms.
Gor almost had a perfect start in the second half when Collins Shichenje lost the ball cheaply in a dangerous area, but Clifton Miheso’s shot after being sent through on the left sailed straight into the keeper’s arms.
They came close once again after 51 minutes but Said Tsuma made a vital block to deny Nikiema after the Burkina Faso forward took a shot when keeper Oyemba smothered a Miheso cross into his path.
AFC coach Patrick Aussems swung to make attacking changes with Paul Thiong’o and Hansel Ochieng coming on for Austine Odhiambo and Harrison Mwendwa.
But, they still couldn’t break for goal as the game tightened into penalties.
Meanwhile in the play-off, Bidco United clinched bronze after beating third tier side Equity Bank FC by a solitary goal. Kassim Mwinyi scored the lone goal with a powerful header off a corner on the half hour mark.
Equity had shown a brave fight from the onset, but were downed by Bidco’s experience with the Premier League side scoring early and guarding the lead jealously.
“I am proud of my team because we have shown that we can compete. We have come up against very experienced teams and we have matched them man for man. We were only not clinical enough and that was the difference. We have picked our lessons and we will come back better and stronger,” said Equity coach John Baraza, a former winner of the title with Sofapaka.
In the individual awards, Gor Mahia’s playmaker Kenneth Muguna was named player of the tournament while AFC keeper John Oyemba won keeper of the tournament award. Bandari’s Benjamin Mosha was the tournament’s top scorer with five goals despite his side exiting the tournament at the quarter final stage. They lost to Equity.