NAIROBI, March 15- Gor Mahia’s hopes of progressing past the first round of the CAF Champions League hang by a thread after conceding a damaging 1-0 home defeat to visiting AC Leopards of Congo in their opening leg clash at Nyayo National Stadium on Sunday.
Cesair Gandze struck a dipping shot from his weaker left foot on the 49th minute for the winner and crucial away goal following a defensive mix up between Musa Mohammed and Timothy Otieno to leave K’Ogalo staring at a second successive elimination at the round of 32 ahead of the second leg in Congo Brazzavile.
“We are still in the tie and gave them a fright in the opening minutes and I cannot blame my players since apart from that one lapse in concentration, they gave their all,” Gor coach, Frank Nuttall said after the match.
The home side fashioned two scoring chances inside the first ten minutes with the lively Michael Olunga forcing keeper Chancel Massa to a scrambling save at his near post with eight gone in a barnstorming start in front of a partisan crowd.
From the resultant corner, Liberian defender, Dirkir Glay headed onto the crossbar as AC Leopards from an Olunga knock down with Massa beaten all hands up.
That was as good as it got for Gor who looked laden from lack of match sharpness following the suspension of their Kenyan Premier League from an injunction obtained by Football Kenya Federation that ran into the third weekend in the ongoing football crisis in the country.
Having opted to bypass the midfield where Gor were enjoying dominance, AC Leopards weathered the early storm and began forcing the game to the home side.
They came close to the opener in the 34th when Makkiese looped the ball over the advancing Boniface Oluoch in goal but the ball tricked few inches past the inside of the right post after he snapped the offside trap.
Leopards went even closer when they hit the crossbar from a header that had Olouch scrambling as Mohammed hacked the rebound clear from the line.
It took only four minutes after the break for Leopards to fashion the victory when Gandze set himself up and unloaded a dipping left foot shot when the ball bobbled between Mohammed and Ochieng who had all the time to clear their lines in a moment of hesitation that cost their side.
Gor could not respond as Leopards sunk deeper in defence and at the final whistle, the 2012 Confederation Cup winners went home happier with the advantage.