Gor fans joked about the Leopards goalkeeper whom the referred to as 'Calamity Charles' in the same vein David James had been once dubbed 'Calamity James'. We were hopeful that no photo of Onyango clad in an AFC Leopards crescent-less Prostar kit would appear in the daily press.
The Leopards had suspended indefinitely (a euphemism for fired, perhaps) the coach Gilbert 'Celeb' Selebwa and in his place, Edward Manoah was acting.
Ingwe Fan sadly wasnt able to make the trip to Kasarani but thanks to Supersport, no action was missed.
To view the goals as televised by Supersport click here
Right from the beginning, it appeared odds were stacked against the leopards. Carol Radull had her usual prediction of a 2-1 scoreline against AFC; the TV channel wasn't able to even get the Leopards name right. Leopaerds? And Leopards turned out in the all blue kit used in they had used Nationwide League. Gor therefore looked surprisingly the well oiled team with their Adidas kit complete with their new logo; whilst Leopards chose to ignore their red away Healy kit in favour of the Prostar kit with the old logo.
Alfred Chege even turned out in a number 23 kit which really was a number 2 with cellotape making out the number 3. Supersport had Benard Otieno and Ghost Mulees its commentators. They did a good job with gems such as: Ekene is a Nigerian person from Nigeria. Priceless.
My South African friend Tshego wasn't very impressed with the Leopards and was quick to sent a text expressing concern. Fortunately, the Kaizer Chiefs she supports also lost and there ended the banter.
In the end, Charles Onyango still made the Sunday Nation.
Granted, he had just made a great save of a penalty kick but then conceded a goal as the napping Leopards defence reacted slowly to his heroics and let Zablon Otieno score as pictured above. The Leopards defence had also accounted for Gor Mahia's equalizing goal.
The KPL Website Report
Gor Mahia 3 AFC Leopards 2
Gor Mahia went home smiling after dramatically turning around their fortunes.
Their deserved win over Leopards, done in fine style because even in the old days these old enemies hardly ever scored more than the odd goal against each other, saw Gor shoot up from the lowest rung to suddenly No. 4 on the table.
These were two eager sets of players, very much unheralded, but looking like dedicated men who can do with some good coaching to get them to the top.
Leopards were better in the opening stages and it was because their forwards, especially Zimbabwean Tafadza Dondo, were threatening, that frantic defending called for Gor Mahia hacking Dondo to the ground in the box just in the fourth minute.
Skipper Francis Xavier stepped up to take the penalty and give Leopards the lead.
It was short-lived because Gor did not just lie down and die; they pressed. And in a move that got the Leopards' defence on the back-foot, their last man, Allan "Thuram" Ogal, who found himself hotly pursued by Gor attackers and he turned Francis Akang'o's lobbed ball into his own net in the seventh minute.
It was then flowing football from end to end when Dondo's stunner of a shot almost knocked off the cross bar that kept the ball out with Gor 'keeper Frederick well beaten in the 19th minute.
Gor played without their coach, James Siang'a, who was serving a two- match Kenyan Premier League ban for bad behaviour in a recent league match. But the Gor boys were not about to let down their stand-in coach, Gideon Ochieng', who must have admired his boys fighting spirit.
Habil Otieno dribbled his way to inside the Leopards box and two players double-teamed to stop his move, bringing him to the ground. Otieno stepped up to take the penalty but he hit it directly to the hands of Charles Onyango. However, the shot had enough power for the Leopards' 'keeper to fail to catch it clean.
The rebound did not find Zablon Otieno in an easy position and he commendably got past two defenders and the goalie before squeezing the ball in past the near post from a narrow angle.
Habil Otieno's personal contribution to the scoreboard came at the end of a sweeping attack by Gor Mahia in the 54th minute. He was the final man to break through and guided the ball into an empty Leopards' goal when Onyango moved out to confront him.
A 3-1 lead by any of the two teams in this battle of "The Old Firm" is always a rarity rather then the norm. Leopards did all they could to reduced the arrears. Dennis Mukaisi's header from a Xavier corner went just inches wide and Leopards smelt that Gor would perhaps crack in the last quarter of an hour.
Gor, under pressure had defender Stephen Otieno handling a high ball and Xavier converted his second penalty of the day in the 75th minute.
Then second half substitute Farid Ahmed had an excellent chance for an equaliser when he was through and with just the goalkeeper, shot to his hands in the 85th minute.
The loss condemned Leopards to a further stay at the foot of the table but the fact that their bitter rivals had vaulted to the upper ends must be incentive enough for Leopards to want to think that they can also do it.
Gor Mahia - 1. Jerry Frederick Onyango, 14. Eric Masika, 4. Julius Owino (captain), 2. Francis Akang'o, 21. Nathan Munai (30. Elisha Ochieno, 78'), 28. Nicholas Otieno Ochieng, 19. Solomon Nasio, 12. Peter Opiyo Odhiambo, 9. Chris Wekesa (7. John Ringo, 60'), 17. Habil Otieno (26. Stephen Otieno, 57'), 10. Zablon Otieno
Reserves not used - 16. Ronny George Kagozi, 25. George Odhiambo, 22. Tony Onyango, 24. Ibrahim Kitawi
Scorers - 11. Allan Huma (7', own goal), 10. Zablon Otieno (25'), 17. Habil Otieno (54')
Coach - Gideon Ochieng'
Leopards - 16. Charles Onyango: 12. Jackton Opanda, 23. Alfred Chege, 17. Arthur Wefula, 11. Allan Huma, 10. Tafadzawa Dondo (30. Maxwell Mulaba), 6. Francis Xavier (captain), 13. Roy Syamba, 18. Tom Wango (8. Roy Waiswa, 60') 9. Dennis Mukhaisi, 14. Sebastian Muchera (7. Farid Ahmed, 56')
Reserves not used - 4. David Ochieng', 26. Umekwe Ekene, 8. Roy Waiswa, 3. Collins Kisuya, 15. Geoffrey Shikanda
Scorers - 6. Francis Xavier (4', 75')
Coach - Edward Manoah
Referee - Chrispine Oduor (Nairobi)
The Nation Report
Chants of “AFC! AFC!” fought for air space with drones of “Gor,Gor Mahia!” as the two sets of fans urged their teams on, reminiscent of the good old days.
And while the quality did not match that of the lost golden era the sheer drama on and off the pitch more than made up for it.
The Standard ReportTwo of the five goals scored came via the penalty spot.
Actually Leopards were the ones who scored both goals through the penalty. Francis Xavier is now the leading scorer. And Leopards, is still winless.
The Nairobi Star meanwhile reports that Gor left the duties of gate collection to KPL and that the amount collected was counted in the absence of Gor Mahia. The game was a double header with the Sofapaka-Chemelil Sugar game and the proceeds were to be shared with Sofapaka.
The next Leopards match to be televised will be the game against Agro Chemicals on 21st March. This will also be a double header after the match pitting Sofapaka and KCB.
For those interested, there is a confirmation of the Mickey Weche incident.