NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 15 – Samuel Onyango scored a first half brace as Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia inched close to a first ever place in the group stages of the CAF Champions League with a 3-1 win over Nigeria’s Lobi Stars at Kasarani on Sunday.
The returning Jacques Tuyisenge opened the scoring before former Ulinzi man Onyango scored twice in between Lobi’s goal.
With the win, Gor will now travel for the return leg in Benue next week seeking to merely avoid defeat and book themselves a group stage slot and an assured Sh55mn purse for their effort.
Fresh from their 4-0 huge win against Zoo Kericho in midweek, Gor came into the tie beaming confidence and for the first time in the Champions League, midfielder Francis Kahata was thrown into the fray.
This was a signal that his move to Algerian giants CS Constantine might be in limbo as the reason he was not being played was to avoid complicating his chances of a transfer.
Head coach Hassan Oktay resorted to his strongest team, Joash Onyango coming back into the starting team ahead of Pascal Ogweno who started against Zoo while Tuyisenge who has been out with injury started in the absence of Ephraim Guikan who is ineligible to play as he is unregistered.
And the Kenyan champions showed their hunger of making it into the group stages, Tuyisenge making his presence felt with a sixth minute goal finishing off a dicey pass from Kahata.
Onyango then made it 2-0 for the home side with a superb bicycle kick goal making the most of a Francis Mustafa miss off a Tuyisenge cross.
Lobi however halved the deficit minutes later from a corner kick, Mathias Samuel rising highest inside the box to connect from a Kwambe Solomon corner.
The Nigerian champions’ strategy was scattered a few inutes later when they were forced into a change, defender Umar Zango limping off injured and was replaced by Austine Ogunye.
Gor made the most to capitalize on the new defensive pairing, Onyango completing his brace with another peach of a goal.
The former Ulinzi Stars man dispossessed Duru Chidiebube, broke down the right flank before rounding onrushing Lobi custodian Ospina Egbe, and weaved through two defenders before slamming the ball into the net.
The second half was a tale of missed opportunities for K’Ogalo who should have taken the game into further safety.
Tuyisenge had a glorious opportunity to also add his second for a brace after 66 minutes when he lobbed the ball over keeper Egbe and going through on goal. But his eventual pull at the trigger was never on target.
A minute later Mustafa forced Egbe into a fingertip save with a shot inside the area with a well taken shot.