James Magayi @PeopleSports11
Kenyan champions Gor Mahia scrapped past New Star de Douala of Cameroon to book a second successive appearance in the CAF Confederation Cup group stage and bag Sh27 million following a scoreless draw in Limbe yesterday.
Gor progress on a 2-1 aggregate having won by the same margin in Nairobi the previous weekend. It was ugly but welcome for an underwhelming.
They defended deep, huffed and puffed as New Star pinned them down for the one goal that would have changed fortunes for both teams. In the end, K’Ogalo prevailed albeit without a single shot on target.
New Star remained to rue their undesirable trait of not winning home matches. Coach Hassan Oktay kept faith in his squad that won 2-1 in Nairobi while his New Star de Douala counterpart made three changes.
The match made for an interesting spectacle as both teams created scoring chances and at the same time displayed great nerves.
Gor set the ball rolling and immediately ventured into the hosts danger area but a quick counter attack after Mustafa Francis gave away the ball led New Star testing Boniface Oluoch in the opposite goal.
Free-scoring Figo Ngongag somehow found space in the box under tight marking from Joachim Oluoch and fired a low shot which forced Oluoch into a save.
Oluoch again gifted the visitors another chance nine minutes into the game when he took out Ngongag but the expected in-swinger went high.
K’Ogalo ought to have taken the lead in the 19th minute when Francis fed Jaques Tuyisenge through on goal but an on rushing defender thwarted the Rwandan 14 yards out.
Mustafa then spanned Gor’s next biggest chance when his intended tee to Tuyisenge was too heavy. The Rwandan had space to score unchallenged but the delivery was wanting.
After wingers Boniface Omondi and Francis Kahata destroyed the Cameroonians in Nairobi, coach Gerard Mbimi devised a way to contain them with strict marking.
The strategy seemed to have disrupted K’Ogalo who failed to find their flow and swagger of first leg. Central midfielder Lawrence Juma also found little room to maneuver, leaving Gor to resort to long balls.
If Gor were on the back foot during the opening half, the second was torturous as New Star went all out. Most of the game was played in K’Ogalo’s half and Oluoch was forced to make five crucial saves.
Yet the Kenyan team also carved out decent chances of their own with Tuyisenge especially guilty of taking a needless tumble in the 83rd minute looking for a penalty when staying on his feet and shooting would have yielded a goal.