NAIROBI, February 13 – Gor Mahia’s chances of qualifying to the first round of the CAF Champions League were dented after the Kenyan Premier League champions went down 2-1 at home to Madagascan side CNaPS in the opening leg played at Nyayo National Stadium on Saturday.
Riajala Raherindivo opened the scoring at the quarter hour mark before Enock Agwanda cancelled out three minutes to the interval.
Michael Fehanaiza sealed the winner late in the 83rd minute to leave K’Ogalo need a 2-0 win in the return leg to overturn the deficit.
CNaPS came into the match more organized compared to last season when the two sides met at the same stage and within the first six minutes, the visitors had already threatened but they could not find the target.
Rado Rakotonirina had a shot from the edge of the box but it was too weak to trouble Gor custodian Boniface Oluoch.
Rakotonirina was a thorn in Gor’s flesh throughout the opening exchanges with his runs on the right troubling Karim Nzigiyimana.
Gor came close with two long throws from Agwanda but were both headed away by the CNaPS backline.
Gor found themselves on the back foot when Rakotonirina beat the Burundian on the ball, cut into the box and picked out Raherindivo before the winger slotted home on the far post to break the deadlock.
CNaPS had an opportunity to make it 2-0 in the 32nd minute after Jeanot Vombola danced past Oluoch from a Rakotoharinalola through pass, but his intended cut back from a tight angle was cleared away by the defence.
Gor finally levelled three minutes to the break through an Agwanda penalty after CNaPS defender handled an Abuoba Sibomana cross in the box.
Gor came back stronger in the second half with new signing Jacob Keli bringing in a fine cross from the right but it was turned away for a corner a few yards from goal.
Gor skipper Musa Mohammed could have gifted the Madagascans a second in the 65th minute when his header was intercepted by Rakotonirina who raced into the box but Oluoch was in the right position to rescue his side.
Gor head coach, Frank Nuttall withdrew George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo for youngster Eric Ouma while Keli went off for Ronald Omino.
CNaPS made things worse for K’Ogalo seven minutes to time when substitute Fehanaiza hammered the final nail on Gor’s coffin.
Gor will travel to Antananarivo in a fortnight for the second-leg where they will be seeking to avoid the embarrassment of bowing out at the continental competition in the preliminary round.