Kenyan champions Gor Mahia have an uphill task in their bid to reach a third consecutive appearance in the CAF Confederation Cup group stage after throwing away a precious lead to draw one-all in the first of a two-legged play-off with DC Motema Pembe at Kasarani on Sunday evening.
K’Ogalo looked jaded in the first half and survived several onslaughts while also missing two scoring opportunities. They however, rallied to breach their opponents in the 61st minute courtesy of Ivorian Substitute Gnamien Gislain who bundled the ball into the net after slaloming run into the box under tight marking.
The lanky Ivorian breathed fresh air into Gor Mahia’s play and capped his second appearance for K’Ogalo with the delightful finish. Unfortunately, his effort only lasted nine minutes as a cocktail of errors by the hosts allowed the visitors to grab a leveler and take the game by its scruff henceforth.
Casual play and slack defending saw Gor Mahia concede a needless free kick when Wellington Ochieng clattered into Assumani Rachidi just outside the box. Amale Mukoko drilled a fierce shot on target leading to a second effort.
Goalkeeper David Mapigano punched the ball feebly back in play allowing William Likuta to pounce from close range and equalize. The visitors gained impetus after drawing level but were harshly denied when defender Charles Momanyi deliberately blocked a goal bound shot using his arm.
The defender was shown a straight red card and the visitors awarded a penalty. Having been at fault in Motema Pembe’s equalizer goalkeeper Mapigano stood tall between the sticks and punched out the resultant penalty to preserve parity.
With one man down and their visitors charged K’Ogalo defended desperately in the remaining minutes to retain a fighting chance when they travel to Congo next Sunday for the second leg.
Gor Mahia coach Steven Polack made a defensive change bring on board Joachim Oluoch for Boniface Omondi to shore up the backline. The imbalance on the pitch created an end to end contest as Motema Pembe went for the kill and K’Ogalo counter attacked.
One such counter attack nearly yielded a second goal for Gor Mahia, Gislein Gnamien the goal scorer launching a marauding run only to be denied by a last ditch lunge that bore a corner for Gor Mahia.
K’Ogalo looked out of sorts most of the game and committed numerous defensive errors. The visitors were lenient enough to let them off the hook but you get the feeling things could be different in the Stadium of Matyrs next Sunday.