NAIROBI, Kenya, February 14 – Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions Gor Mahia gave the Green Army a perfect Valentine’s gift after opening their CAF Champions League campaign with a 1-0 win over Madagascar’s CNaPS in the preliminary round first-leg at Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium on Saturday.
Inform Ali Abondo struck the lone goal from the spot in the third minute after CNaPS keeper Jean Randrianasolo brought down Michael Olunga in the box for Ugandan referee Rajab Bakasambi to award Gor the penalty.
Gor head coach made three changes from the team that beat Sofapaka to lift the DStv SuperSport Cup with forward Timothy Otieno, midfielder Jerry Santos and defender Kevin Oluoch starting.
K’Ogalo dominated the first half with Olunga being influential after setting his side to the early lead when he won the penalty that saw Abondo convert calmly to send the keeper to the wrong direction.
Olunga could then miss a series of chances after breaking through the visitors defence on several occasions but the former Thika United striker could not execute his finishing touches well.
The visitors got their chance on the 23rd when Jeannot Vonimbola beat the offside trap but Gor keeper Boniface Oluoch came off his line to clear the danger.
On the other end, Otieno saw his long range shot parried by Randrianasolo moments before Olunga’s strike was blocked.
The only shot on target for the visitors came on the 40th when Rija Rakotomandimby saw his cracker saved by Oluoch as Gor held on the lead at the break.
CNaPS returned a stronger side but their efforts of finding the equaliser bore no fruit, even as Jeannot Vonimbola missed a one on one chance with Oluoch who repelled for a corner after defenders Musa Mohammed and Dikir Glay collided.
The win put K’Ogalo one foot in the second round as they head for the return leg in Madagascar with a 1-0 advantage.
The aggregate winner will meet Congo’s AC Leopards in the second round.