NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 18- Record 16-time Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia have made history by becoming the first Kenyan team to progress to the group stages of continental football in the new era of CAF club games.
Despite losing 2-1 to SuperSport United in the return leg of the play-off round in Pretoria on Wednesday night, the Kenyan champions advanced on the away goals rule after the tie ended 2-2 on aggregate.
Francis Kahata scored the all important goal that sailed Gor through, just a minute after Harun Shakava had scored an own goal. Despite Thabo Mnyamane’s goal that took SuperSport 2-1 after 68 minutes, Gor managed to hold on for the historic feat that assures them of at least Sh27mn in grants.
K’Ogalo missed two first team players in Jacques Tuyisenge and Ernest Wendo, but head coach Dylan Kerr still fielded a strong side. Meddie Kagere spearheaded the attack with support from Bernard Ondiek and George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo.
Philemon Otieno who had played at right back over the last two games was drafted back into midfield to take charge of Wendo’s absence while Joachim Oluoch started off at right back.
Keeper Boniface Oluoch was kept busy between the sticks by the hosts in the opening 45 minutes as the hosts piled pressure in a bid to get that single goal that would put them squarely back into contention.
In the 15th minute, the hosts had a chance when Sipho Mbule dragged a shot from distance but it flew over the bar. Seven minutes later, Mbule attempted to turn provider releasing Luke Le Roux, but the latter’s cross was well collected by Oluoch.
In the 28th minute, Oluoch was forced into a save again, this time making an easy catch to pick out Thabo Mnyamane’s freekick.
SuperSport had forced Gor to play on the back-foot but the Kenyan champions had a chance two minutes to the break when Ondiek broke through but his effort went inches wide.
In the second half, the hosts started off with punch in attack. Dylan Stoffels had two chances, first with a shot that was well saved by keeper Oluoch and the second, he took a heavy first touch off a Jamie Weber cross allowing the defense to clear.
The pressure finally bore fruit in the 59th minute when Shakava cleared a cross into his own net, but the joy was short-lived as from a quick restart, Kahata put the ball beyond the keeper from a George Odhiambo cross.
At this point, SuperSport needed at least two more goals to assure themselves a place in the group stages and they kept the pressure. In the 68 th minute, they made it 2-1 when Mnyamane found space to shoot, beating Oluoch.
The second goal added adrenaline to Matsatsantsa and Oluoch was forced to make two great saves off Darren Smith one on one.
On the opposite end, Reyaad Pieterse also made a great save to deny Gor Mahia. The Kenyans managed to hold on to the score and despite Kerr marking his third loss since joining Gor, he had done just enough to make history with K’Ogalo.