Gor Mahia XI: Oluoch- Musa Mohammed, Harun Shakava, Nzigiyimana, Sibomana- Luke Ochieng, Collins Okoth, Walusimbi, ‘Blackberry’- Jacob Keli, Agwanda.
Bandari FC XI: Obungu- Duncan Otewa, David Gateri, Mohammed Shariff, Felly Mulumba- Humphrey Okoti, Musa Mudde, Shaban kenga, Edwin Lavatsa, Anthony Kimani- Dan Sserunkuma.
Francis Nuttal’s dramatic return to Gor Mahia was coupled with Luke stepping in for Aucho and Jacob Keli and Agwanda filling the vacancy of last season’s prolific attacking duo.
Bandari put on show their revamped squad ahead of charting into the uncharted waters of continental football in a five man midfield.
The game started with a good intensity. Unfortunately, it did not seem directed towards any goal- metaphorically. There was plenty of silly loss of possession, miscued passes and too many negative passes. Perhaps Gor Mahia can be forgiven as they did not have a player who could hold and distribute the ball in the pitch. Bandari, on the other hand, had numbers and a decent attacking midfield trio but were woeful in possession. When the ball got to the feets of Kenga, Kimani or Lavatsa there was a sense of danger but reliance on individuals against the experienced Gor Mahia defenders was fruitless.
The former Gor Mahia marksman played upfront alone. Supply to him was always over the top thus he never truly got a hold into the game. But you could see how much respect he got from Gor Mahia. The defenders stuck very tight to him. He would drift wide to the right to get them out of position and try and get space to run onto the danger area with the ball. In these instances, Anthony Kimani (who played well) would have bombed into the space created to receive passes but he is not a true no.10. Understandably, this instinct eluded him.
Bandari FC’s defence struggled at points with the twin strike force. I was particularly impressed by Agwanda’s decision making and general holding up of the ball. Is this a ‘lite’ version of KPL 2015 attack? You had a burly striker in Agwanda and a partner who can run into afforded spaces; Keli. Twice we saw Jacob Keli cause havoc at the far-post. Because he is not tall, he wouldn’t direct headers at goal. Instead, he brought in cut-backs- my favourite kind of chance creation from width. And unlike Bandari, K’ogallo always had runners into the box to try and take advantage. Collins Okoth’s close effort is a great example.
Numeric advantage not utilized
When Bandari played so casually 11 vs 10 I thought they were burning out Gor Mahia. I thought they would pass the ball to death then pounce on their red-carded opponents in the final phases. But Muhiddin’s charges were simply playing it safe. This happened while Gor Mahia kept belief in their style by sticking to a 4-3-2 layout before substitutions.
At the danger of falling into that bad behavior of moralizing football approaches, I was disappointed at Bandari FC. They deliberately brought the tempo to a standstill. They moved the ball around so slowly and switched the flanks so predictably even for a 10-man opponent.
From this game we learnt that Gor Mahia will still be a strong title challenger. I know predictions can discredit an expert but Bandari FC is a top 5 candidate yet they still accorded too much respect. I also have to laud Anthony Kimani and Obungu for standing out in the game and watch out for Dan Sserunkuma.