Gor Mahia settled for a point in their Kenyan Premier League season opener away to Chemelil Sugar after an underwhelming performance ended in a barren draw at the Moi Stadium, Kisumu, on Wednesday (Feb. 17) afternoon.
The defending league champions went into the match needing to make a statement after losing their last two competitive matches but were left frustrated against a side they had beaten on eight consecutive matches prior to this 0-0 stalemate.
Gor Mahia boss Frank Nuttall made three changes from the team that lost to CNaPS Sport in the CAF Champions League with club captain Jerim Onyango replacing Boniface Oluoch who wasn’t in the matchday squad. Kahata was handed his debut at the apex of midfield while Ronald Omino started alongside Agwanda with Keli dropping to the bench.
Chemelil boss, Francis Baraza, went with Denis Okangi at the top while new signing Samuel Odhiambo started in goal ahead of Jairus Adira.
Gor Mahia scored seven goals against Chemelil in their home and away meetings last season and it seemed the floodgates would open once again when, just two minutes in, Kahata did the donkey work on the right flank before finding an unmarked Agwanda inside the Chemelil box. The striker, however, made a meal of the chance, failing to beat keeper Odhiambo from close range.
Two corners, hovered in by Karim Nizigiyimana, sandwiched an 18-yard effort from Agwanda which Odhiambo pushed to safety, keeping the scores level by the quarter hour mark.
The hosts created their first chance in the 17th minute through former Nakuru All Stars man Hillary Echesa whose free kick from the edge of the box went just wide of Jerry’s post.
After leading Agwanda’s long throw-in over the bar, George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo came closest to breaking the deadlock at the hour mark but his shot was cleared off the line by David Ojwang’ with the Kogalo players claiming the ball had crossed the line.
The referee remained content with his initial decision.
The scorching heat and high humidity saw the referee allow the players to take a water break, a move that affected Gor Mahia’s flow as Chemelil controlled proceedings thereafter but it was the league champions who had the last say in the first half, Kahata’s free kick missing the target by some considerable inches.
Agwanda and Smith Ouko went into the referee’s book at the stroke of half time.
With his attack blunt, Baraza made a change immediately after the resumption, Apollo Onyango coming on for Onkangi.
Nevertheless, chances kept coming Gor Mahia’s way with Kahata the main architect and Agwanda at the end of most of them but without really making use.
Nuttall made a double substitution with Keli and Eric ‘Marcelo’ Ouma coming on for Agwanda and Omino with twenty minutes to the final whistle. Edmond Murai was also handed his debut with Collins Okoth going off but the new recruits couldn’t help Kogalo find a goal.
It is the first time in six years (Feb. 20, 2010) that Gor Mahia have drawn their opening match of a new season. They were held by Western Stima in another scoreless stalemate.
Gor Mahia Starting XI: Jerim Onyango (GK), 5. Musa Mohamed, 18. Harun Shakava, 14. Karim Nizigiyimana, 3. Abouba Sibomana, 6. Collins Okoth, 10. Khalid Aucho, 8. Francis Kahata, 25. George Odhiambo, 7. Ronald Omino, 24. Enock Agwanda,
Subs: 12. Gradus Ochieng (GK), 21. Eric Ouma, 17. Eric Ochieng, 28. Edmond Murai, 11. Amos Nondi, 26. Luke Ochieng, 27. Jacob Keli
Chemelil Starting XI: Samuel Odhiambo (GK), Willis Ouma, Samuel Olwande (CPT), Smith Ouko, Joseph Okumu, David Ojwang’, Victor Majid, Stephen Wakanya, Erastus Mwaniki, Hillary Echesa, Denis Onkangi
Subs: Jairus Adira (GK), Alfred Oluoch, James Omino, Apollo Otieno, Jefari Odeny, Edmond Aden, Morris Wandera
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