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Kenya’s Okumu scores first goal as KAA Gent defeat KV Mechelen in Belgian league

6:11 PM IST 08/05/22
Kenya defender Joseph Okumu of KAA Gent.
The 24-year-old Harambee Star struck with a powerful header with eight minutes left to lift the Buffalos to a vital top-flight win

Kenya international Joseph Okumu was on target as KAA Gent defeated KV Mechelen 1-0 in a Belgian Pro League fixture at Ghelamco Arena on Saturday.

The 24-year-old lanky defender powered home with a header in the 82nd minute to help the Buffalos pick a second straight victory, having won the last meeting 3-1 against Sporting Charleroi.

Okumu, who joined Gent from Swedish side IF Elfsborg, has explained his goal saying he has been training on many occasions to score from such opportunities and was happy it yielded maximum points for his side.

“We trained on stationary phases. Then it’s nice that it works in the game and results in a goal,” Okumu told the club’s official website after the game. “I am especially happy that we won, because KV Mechelen is a good team with a good organization.”

It was Gent, who started the game on a high and they should have taken the lead with only six minutes played when Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe combined well with Julien De Sart and from the resultant ball, they put through Tarik Tissoudali but from a one-on-one situation, his weak effort was put out by goalkeeper Gaetan Coucke.

Mechelen then produced an attack of their own from the right-wing in the 34th minute, Sandy Walsh racing through with the ball before releasing Nikola Storm but his effort was also punched out for a fruitless corner by Davy Roef.

With three minutes left to the half-time break, Okumu saved Gent from going down as he put his body on the line to block an inswinging cross from Storm.

Gent came back a more rejuvenated side in the second period and they continued to knock on Mechelen’s goal but nothing came out of it.

It was Okumu, who saved the day for Gent with eight minutes left to the final whistle, as he lept the highest to thunder in a powerful header from a corner delivered by Sven Kums to the delight of fans at the stadium.

Mechelen’s slim chance to snatch even a draw from the game was then dashed in the stoppages when defender Thibault Peyre was shown a straight red card following a clumsy challenge.

Since joining Gent, Okumu has managed 30 appearances in the top-flight and received one yellow card. He will hope to keep his starting role when Gent come up against the same side at Achter de Kazerne on May 10.