Defending champions Gor Mahia fail to put Sofapaka to the sword in season opener


FKFPL Defending champions Gor Mahia fail to put Sofapaka to the sword in season opener

Festus Chuma 17:07 - 26.08.2023

K'Ogalo dropped points in their opening game of the season against 2009 champions Sofapaka.

Gor Mahia kicked off their title defense with a one-all draw against Sofapaka in a match played at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on Saturday afternoon.

Johnathan McKinstry fielded new acquisitions, namely Kevin Juma, Rooney Onyango, and Lawrence Juma.

K'Ogalo were brimming with confidence, having won the 2023-2024 Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Charity Shield the previous weekend.

Sofapaka's new head coach Francis Haringingo brought in a completely new squad, with Sunday Ikhekai being the only notable name in the lineup.

Gor Mahia started the match the better team with Benson Omalla and John Macharia exchanging neat passes but Batoto ba Mungu’s defense stood firm with goalkeeper Jacob Osano's fine saves to keep the score sheet clean.

In the 20th minute, Sofapaka had a great surge upfront that provided Fiston Razak with a great opportunity to score but his first shot was saved by goalkeeper Caleb Otieno while his second attempt went begging.

On the opposite side of the pitch, former Nairobi City Stars goalkeeper Osano pulled off a fine save at the half-hour mark to deny Austin Odhiambo as the hosts continued to search for the opening goal.

The pressure persisted as Gor Mahia launched another attack in the 40th minute. Rooney Onyango overlapped on the right-hand side but was brought down by Sofapaka’s Darius Msagha, who was yellow-carded by referee Brooke Phillip.

Two minutes later, Msagha made amends when Keegan Ndemi played a perfectly weighted throw-in to put him in on goal. The former Bandari man showed great composure, beating the goalkeeper with a low, left-footed shot to make it 1-0.

The goal seemed to reawaken the K’Ogalo's attack, and John Macharia found himself on the end of another opportunity, only for his effort to lack the necessary venom to trouble the Sofapaka goal. 

The 24-year-old was proving to be a constant danger and could have found the equaliser before the break, but his header flew over the crossbar.

The score was 1-0 at the interval, following a lively first half between the two sides in which Gor Mahia dominated but failed to capitalise on their chances.

The resumption of the second half saw K’Ogalo come out of the half-time interval looking confident. Defender Geoffrey Ochieng lined up an effort from the edge of the area which went just wide off target.

Sofapaka were certainly under the cosh and Caleb Otieno needed to be sharp as the game approached the hour mark. The former Kenya U-23  international did well to get his fingertips onto a low drive. 

At the other end though, Gor Mahia had a rare opportunity but this time Omala’s curling effort brushed the top of the net to the relief of the despairing Osano. 

McKinstry would be pulling his hair out as Gor Mahia were guilty of squandering several opportunities. This time Kevin Simiyu found himself on the end of a superb cross but his header fell comfortably into the arms of Osano.

In an effort to change things around, McKinstry threw on Christopher Ochieng at the hour-mark, and the forward was proving to be a real threat as he continuously showed his skill down the line.

But with just six minutes remaining, Gor Mahia drew the matters level when they were awarded a penalty which was converted by Benson Omala to make it 1-1.

The momentum was with the visitors in the latter stages of the match and they had several opportunities to snatch a late winning goal but they failed to utlise their chances.

How they lined up:

Gor Mahia : Caleb Otieno,Ronney Onyango, Godfrey Ochieng, Sylvester Owino, Joshua Onyango, Kevin Simiyu, Bonface Omondi, Lawrence Ochieng, Benson Omala, Austine Odhiambo, John Macharia

Sofapaka: Jacob Osano, Simon Munala, Evans Makari, David Nshirimimana, Nusa Omar, Sunday Ikhekia, Khalid Jumaan, Keegan Ndeni, Fiston Adul Razak, Baron Ochieng’, Darius Musagha