Kenyan champions Gor Mahia defied myriads of challenges and gleaned a point in Bujumbura, Burundi as they held Aigle Noir to a scoreless draw in the first leg of CAF Champions League preliminary round.
Deprived of key players by injuries, suspensions and other logistical challenges, K’Ogalo played tactically against Aigle Noir and now wait to seal progress to the next stage when they host the Burundian champions in Nairobi after a fortnight.
Coach Steven Polack deployed new signing Dvid Mapigano between the sticks and the Tanzanian justified his selection by keeping Gor Mahia at par with crucial second half saves.
Full backs Geoffrey Ochieng and Wellington Ochieng held their own against a determined home team while Josh Onyango and Charles Momanyi were imperious in central defense.
With diminutive but creative Tobias Otieno at the base of midfield with Kenneth Muguna and Lawrence Juma playing slightly advanced, Gor Mahia created several scoring chances and at one time had the ball in the net only for the referee to disallow the goal for offside.
Samuel Onyango joined the fray in the second half in place of Boniface Omondi as Polack sought more wing penetration. His endeavors failed to break the hosts with point man Nicholas Kipkirui and Dickson Ambundo searching earnestly for away goal.
Priorities changed later in the game as Polack settled for a point. With Aigle Noir exerting more pressure on K’Ogalo, Polack made defensive changes which saw Shafik Batambuze replace Ambundo while Joachim Oluoch came in for Kipkirui.
The defensive formation held strong and was off the match. K’Ogalo will host the return leg in Kasarani stadium on 25th August.
Gor Mahia must win at home to progress at the expense of Aigle Noir. A scoring draw will see the Burundi outfit through courtesy of away goals rule.