Gor Mahia, Ulinzi Stars share spoils at Afraha

By alex wafula
Mar 03, 2021
  • Gor Mahia's Harun Shakava heads the ball away from Ulinzi's Oscar Wamalwa in Nakuru. The teams drew 0-0. (Photo by Alex Wafula)

Less than three days before they face rivals AFC Leopards in the Kenyan derby, Gor Mahia are still to find their winning ways.

The Kenya Premier League champions drew 0-0 with Ulinzi at Afraha Stadium on Thursday afternoon in this SportPesa-sponsored league.

Gor have now picked up three points from their opening three matches, a huge contrast from last season when they enjoyed a 100% record in the opening matches.

But, Frank Nuttall, the Gor Mahia coach is still unfazed despite the slump in form and believes the team will pick up. “We are playing very well and our only problem is that we are not scoring. It is an area we need to address but I am happy with the boys because they are working hard for themselves, working hard for me and working hard for the fans,” Nuttall told Sports News Arena after the match.

While Gor grapple with getting themselves ticking again, Robert Matano is happy with the start his side has had. He has similar problems with Gor, his forward line failing to bang in the goals.

In this match, Ulinzi had many chances especially in the second half but weak finishing coupled with a superb Jerim Onyango between the Gor Mahia sticks meant they couldn’t get anything in the net.

Nuttall had handed league debuts to Bernard Odhiambo and Luke Ochieng with Karim Nzigiyimana rested while Abouba Sibomana missed with injury. Odhiambo played only last 15 minutes of his debut as he came off with a thigh muscle injury.

Enock Agwanda had an early chance for the visitors, taking a shot from the edge of the box after the Ulinzi backline gave the ball away but it went wide. The visitors came close again in the 19th minute with Erick Ochieng’s snap shot from almost 40 yards out evading the target by inches.

Ulinzi’s first chance at goal came in the 21st minute, Omar Mbongi taking a short corner finding John Nairuka but the latter’s shot was blocked.

Onyango denies Makwatta

Gor had Jerim Onyango to thank as they went to the breather level with the military side. The K’Ogalo skipper had pulled off two beautiful saves off John Mark Makwatta. The keeper first stretched fully in the 42nd minute to parry away a wonderful freekick from the Ulinzi Stars hit man.

Five minutes later, he spread his body to block off a volley from Makwatta, the latter having been teed up by John Nairuka.

In the second half, Matano introduced Kevin Amwayi for Cliff Kasuti, the coach clearly going for pace in attack. Amwayi missed the last game with injury.

While Ulinzi threw bodies upfront in search of goals, Gor almost pulled the rag off their feet with a swift counter attack but Omar Mbongi came to the hosts’ rescue.

Francis Kahata put Enock Agwanda through on the counter, the burly striker skipping past James Saruni but a backtracking Omar Mbongi managed to throw in a tackle to poke the ball off for a throw in.

Matano then threw in Churchill Muloma for Joseph Kuria and Daniel Waweru for Nairuka, two substitutions that made a huge impact. Muloma had an almost immediate impact, striking a volley at the edge of the box which Jerim fisted away.

Ulinzi upped the tempo with Makwatta having two close chances. The striker had a shot on his weaker left foot whisk just wide. His closest chance came with four minutes left when his free kick from the edge of the area rolled on the cross bar.

Amwayi too had a late chance with a wonderful left footer which flew inches over the bar.

Ulinzi now shift their eyes to Ushuru FC who they face on Sunday at the Ruaraka Complex. The military side have kept three consecutive clean sheets, managing five points off a possible nine.