AFC Leopards ended seven year wait for victory against Gor Mahia on Sunday at Kasarani stadium.
The win marked the first time Ingwe defeated K’Ogalo since March 2016. After seven years of pain and ridicule, endless banter, and always playing second fiddle in the emotive Mashemeji Derby, AFC Leopards, led by their Belgian tactician Patrick Aussems, produced a heroic 1-2 performance in the 93rd edition of the fierce rivalry to end their thirteen-match winless streak against Gor Mahia and in the process cast a sizeable dent in K’Ogalo’s record-extending chase for a 20th title.
In the presence of their ever-supportive fans, who roared every goal, every pass, every footwork, and even every ball that their goalkeeper Levis Opiyo let roll out of play for a goal kick at Nyayo National Stadium on Sunday afternoon, Ingwe finally vanquished their Mashemeji Derby demons as they grabbed what had proven to be a difficult match to win. The win came in sweeter fashion for the twelve-time Kenyan champions, who had to overcome an early scare that saw the league’s most in-form striker, Benson Omala, who, in surprising fashion, missed from the penalty spot after 26 minutes of the first half. Nine minutes later, as if karma were playing a part, Harambee Stars debutant Victor Omune would emerge from the ruins when Ingwe were awarded their own penalty. Omune did not make a mistake as he sent Gad Matthews in the wrong direction to hand his side the lead that came against the run of play.
That moment that cued an explosive outburst of emotion from the Ingwe faithful would not last long as Austin Odhiambo rose highest to head in an inch perfect Dennis Ng’ang’a corner kick. But that too would prove to be just a small dent in Ingwe’s resolve as Maxwell Otieno, although small in stature, delivered the most important turning point in the game as he placed himself at the back post on a corner kick.
What would follow could not be summed up. The unmarked youngster rose, with destiny in his own hands, to direct his free header into the back of the net as he gave Ingwe what ended up being the match-winning moment and the catharsis point for Ingwe, who avenged all the times they were made to feel as if they were no longer a threat to Gor Mahia.