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Monday, November 18, 2013

5 Things We Learned from the GOTv Shield Cup Derby Final

                            1.       AFC, Gor are at the same level
The Gotv Shield Cup final was a game of two halves where both teams had their moments. Gor prevailed during the first half pinning Leopards in their own half and controlling the lion’s share of possession. The KPL champions created some gilt-edged chances in the half but Danny Sserunkuma was not his sharp self failing to punish Ingwe in more than one occasion. Whatever Leopard’s interim coach James Nandwa discussed with his players during the break must have lifted them up as his troops regrouped and looked the more dangerous outfit after the breather. They seemed to swing the pendulum in their favor, putting pressure on Gor Mahia’s rearguard until they got what would prove to be the winning goal in the 53rd minute through Peter ‘Pinchez’ Opiyo. Although Leopards sucked up some late resurgence from K’ogalo, they held on for the win which gave them their first trophy since 2009. This was one of the best derby matches you would watch in some time. The quality of football was right up there, the players kept their discipline – and so did the officials – and the fans were at their raucous best. A win for Kenyan football indeed.

                               2.         Gor-AFC Clash a Cash Cow for FKF
The KPL Top 8 final between Thika United and Tusker FC in July 14th this year was unprecedented for one reason – entrance was free! Well, that’s one thing you rarely see in a cup final. That the ‘free’ incentive failed to drag enough fans to even fill up one side of the pitch is a discussion for another day. Compare that with the GoTv shield cup final between Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards. Granted, the two clubs are the most supported in the country and have a fanatic, if not religious, following. Any game between the perennial rivals draws crowd to the stadium in a manner comparable to a political rally – which is a good thing. However, that Football Kenya Federation treats the clash between the two titans as a cash cow is very unfortunate if not daylight robbery. It is fine for FKF to make money since it’s not an NGO but there’s always a limit. Five hundred shillings for the terraces may sound affordable to a minority but not the majority, Kshs, 1000 is, at best, prohibitive. Why FKF and all the stakeholders involved in the printing and determining of ticket prices would rather make a match more expensive hence fewer fans attend than more affordable allowing more attendance is something yours truly is always struggling to fathom.

                             3.     David Owino is the Best Defender in KPL
If you watched the GOTv Shield Cup derby final between Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards, a few players must have caught your eye. Many would likely remember the game’s hero Peter ‘Pinchez’ Opiyo but for yours truly, David ‘Calabar’ Owino stood out. Forget about the elation that comes with winning a cup final. The dedication and quality of footballers of Calabar’s nature makes many a fan, feel like the loot they gave Football Kenya Federation for the match ticket wasn’t that much of a waste. The ex Nakuru All Stars player produced yet another top drawer performance and was a nuisance for AFC frontmen. In defence, he never put a foot wrong. His contribution going forward was at its lethal best. Midway into the first half, he made one of his trademark runs before unleashing a rasping shot that got Martin Musalia in Leopard’s goal panicking. Calabar is without doubt the best defender in the league and that is by far. He is surely a shoe in for the Defender of the year award and could have been at par with Jerim Onyango for the Best Player of the Year had the custodian gotten the nomination which he missed for some not so apparent reason.  

                              4.  AFC Job was James Nandwa’s for the taking
When James Nandwa took over the AFC Leopards hotseat in mid September this year following the sacking of Belgian Luc Eymael, the club was languishing in 7th place and showing a form that would at best only secure them a top 8 finish. But the Harambee Stars assistant coach turned things around in a paranormal way. He won all but one of his 7 league matches in charge of the Leopards helping them to secure 2nd place and a return to continental football since their exploits 3 years ago where they lost to Ethiopian outfit SC Banks in the preliminary round of CAF Confederations Cup. In fact, in all his 12 games in charge of Ingwe, the tactician has lost only once, won 11 and conceded a meager four goals. On Sunday evening, he secured Ingwe their first silverware since 2009 overcoming sworn rivals Gor Mahia 1-0 in the GOtv Shield Cup final. That he has been handed a two-year contract by the Leopards hierarchy isn’t much of a surprise. Donge?

                                     5.    Gor Mahia Deserved KPL Title

I have to admit that I expected AFC Leopards to roll over Gor Mahia in the GOtv Shield Cup final. My assumption was informed by the KPL champions’ abject performances against KCB and Ulinzi Stars in their last two games of the KPL season. However, as the mighty Kogalo proved, football is not about your previous game but the current one. I have watched a handful of Gor’s matches throughout the season but never seen anything close to their brilliant display in the first half. It was simply one of the best I have seen from them all season. They seemed to have put their title-winning unit back in order and they delivered a Roy of the Rovers against Leopards who looked shell-shocked by the sudden click of the so called Kogalo defence force. Two players who impressed during the first interval were David ‘Callabar’ Owino and Innocent Mutiso. I fail to get superlatives to describe Callabar so the little said about him the better. Mutiso’s jinking runs on the left channel was a joy to watch as he made himself a constant nuisance to the Leopard’s backline. His final ball may have been wanting but he was part of a Gor team that showed all and sundry that even though they lost the shield final, they totally deserved the bigger one.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!