BY STEVE AYOO
Jacques Tuyisenge scored in the second minute of added time to hand Gor Mahia a 1-0 win over fellow league title contenders Bandari FC in a league match played at the Moi Stadium, Kisumu.
Bandari looked certain to frustrate the title holders and grab a point but the Rwandese captain stepped forward in the minute of utmost and desperate need, heading home a cross from Francis Kahata to hand Gor a much-needed three points as they reclaimed top spot from the prowling Sofapaka.
Kogalo welcomed the coastal side to the Kisumu pitch which was filled to the rafters with probably 99% of the watching crowd hoping to see the home side end a run of four games without victory.
Tuyisenge’s inclusion from the off was one of six changes boss Hassan Oktay made from the side that drew with Ulinzi just two days ago. He was joined in the starting XI by Nicholas Kipkirui, Wellington Ochieng, Lawrence Juma, Samuel Onyango and Hashim Sempala who earned his full debut.
The six to start from the bench (or miss out totally like the injured Philemon Otieno) included Dennis Oliech, Kenneth Muguna and Ernest Wendo as Oktay tries to manage a squad that is expected to play every two days, at least until mid May.
Bandari went into the match as the in-form team, having won all their previous five games in all competitions, four of them in league. They had also beaten Gor Mahia in their previous two league meetings, besides tossing out Hassan Oktay’s side from the ongoing 2019 FKF Shield competition.
Gor on the other hand paraded a form of four games without a win, two of them being defeats that led to their elimination from continental football, the other two being league draws against Kakamega Homeboyz and lately, against Ulinzi Stars.
In a game that has always produced goals (only twice in the previous 13 clashes has there been barren draws), Bandari went toe-to-toe with the defending champions and must have felt hard done by that they got nothing out of the hard yards they put in.
A first half where Gor dominated the ball but failed to cause any damage against a Bandari side that sat deep and tried to counter ended goalless.
Oliech, who replaced Kipkirui as the second half got underway, came closest to getting a goal earlier than when it arrived but Kenya national team reserve keeper Farouk Shikalo was equal to the task, producing a fingertip save to avert the goal-bound effort.
Bandari rang in the changes as Benjamin Mosha, Mike Luvutsi and Moses Mudavadi were all roped in to try outstretch the tiring legs in the Gor backline but they failed to make any impact.
And just when shoulders had began to drop and ye of little faith had all but given up on witnessing a goal here, Tuyisenge pounced with a header that sent the stadium into a raucous celebration.
It was the Ksh. 4 million signing’s 5th goal of this season and 60th in competitive action for Gor Mahia.
With the win, Gor reclaimed top spot with 49 points, one above Sofapaka who have played three games more. Bandari are a further three points adrift having played two more games than the title holders.
Gor Mahia will be away to bottom side Mount Kenya FC in (you guessed it) two days time (!) at the Machakos Stadium. They then play Tusker FC another two days later, April 25, before Bandari get on the pitch against AFC Leopards on April 28. A day later, April 29, Gor will be away to Ulinzi Stars in Afraha.