Heartbreak for Gor Mahia at Cecafa final
Gor Mahia endured a sad ending to their quest for a first Cecafa Club Championship title in 30 years losing 2-0 to home team Azam in the finals on Sunday in Dar es Salaam.
K’Ogalo, who had a flawless run to the final, gave a disappointing performance in the most important match of the tournament.
Azam captain John Bocco and the club’s lethal striker Kipre Cheche scored the two goals that floored Gor Mahia in an ill-tempered match.
“It is disappointing. We could have gotten back into the game and we could have stretched the game to extra time but they (Azam) defended really well, and for that we congratulate them,” Gor Mahia coach Frank Nuttall said.
“I must also give credit to my players because they have given their best in every match, and I hope that this result will not crush their spirits,” he added.
The team was cheered on by a number of dignitaries including former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria and the Kenyan ambassador to Tanzania, Chirau Ali Mwakwere who keenly followed proceedings at the National Stadium.
Coach Frank Nuttall accepted that it was a disappointing outcome to a tournament they had dominated, but he congratulated his players for a good performance in the tournament.
After the opening whistle, the two finalists were separated for only 17 tense, nervy and action-packed minutes before Bocco tilted gave Azam the advantage when he swept home a low cross from Cheche.
Gor Mahia’s Khalid Aucho was lucky to stay on the pitch in the 21st minute when he elbowed an opponent in the face in an off the ball incident.
Innocent Wafula and utility player Godfrey Walusimbi managed to penetrate the Azam defense on separate occasions in the first half, but Ivorian defender Pascal Wawa was alert on both occasions.
Cheche and his striking partner Shomari Kapombe were sharp in the Azam frontline, and they succeeded in outwitting the K’Ogalo defense several times. They were however wasteful on most of these instances.
The Tanzanian powerhouses propagated their dominance to the second half, although there was more goalmouth action for K’Ogalo during this second period.
Strikers Michael Olunga and Meddie Kagere however remained shut out by the Azam defense, and they struggled throughout the match.
Azam effectively ended the contest in the 62nd minute when Cheche caught Gor Mahia goalkeeper Boniface Oluoch napping with a free kick from outside the box.
Azam coach Stewart Hall was elated with his team’s performance praising his players for their fighting spirit.
“We had a good 24-hour rest and the team defended well today. I was concerned with the levels of confidence within the squad but the players approached the match without fear. I am very happy to have won this trophy,” Hall said.
Earlier on, Uganda’s KCCA beat Al Khartoum 2-1 to finish in third position in the tournament.