Kenyan champions Gor Mahia ran riot against Burundian outfit Aigle Noir with a 5-1 perforation in the CAF Champions League Sunday evening to give coach Steven Polack a befitting welcome in his first home match of the season.
A manic opening half at Kasarani stadium saw K’Ogalo score three times with Kipkirui claiming two after defender Hamza Hitimana had scored in his own net. Having played a scoreless draw in Bujumbura a fortnight prior Aigle Noir succumbed to intense pressure exerted by their hosts.
Intense pressure by K’Ogalo on their opponents’ forced hapless Hitimana to bundle the ball comically past his goalkeeper in the 8th minute to send jubilant Gor Mahia fans into early celebrations. Wellington Ochieng’s efforts to retrieve the ball for a quick restart underscored the resolve by Gor Mahia to put the tie to bed.
And they doubled the lead eight minutes later courtesy of Kipkirui’s crisp header from six yards after Aigle Noir left him unmanned. A weak clearance by the Burundians found the corner taker Lawrence Juma waiting on the wings and while his initial take was not precise, he made up with a pinpoint rejoinder that Kipkirui dispatched easily.
K’Ogalo kept their feet on gas pedal and found a third seven minutes before half time with Kipkirui scoring his second of the day after Wellington Ochieng’s tenacious fight for possession yielded. Aigle Noir made a defensive change after third goal and somewhat shored up their backline. They mustered a first shot on target as the opening half ended.
The game mellowed in the second half but K’Ogalo, secured by three goal buffer still ran the sow. Tobias Otieno ran the midfield with Dickson Ambundo and Boniface Omondi hurtling up and down the wings. Gor Mahia’s backline marshalled by reigning most valuable player Joash Onyango was more than steadfast in the few occasions Aigle Noir came calling.
The visitors misery was compounded in the 63rd minute when Ambundo tapped into an empty net for K’Ogalo’s 4th from Aigle Noir goalkeeper Aime Ndizeye spilt Omondi’s venomous cross. There was still plenty of time left and Omondi got on the score sheet after a scintillating move and tee by Kipkirui.
Shafik Batambuze came on for Ambundo on the offensive left but limped off shortly afterwards owing to a nasty twist of the leg during a fall. Samuel Onyango joined the fray in his stead. The visitors, bolstered by their lone goal exerted more pressure and found penetration against the relaxing defense.
Coach Steven Polack introduced Ernest Wendo for Juma to stabilize the midfield and K’Ogalo saw out the game without late tensions
K’Ogalo will now face USM Alger of Algeria or SONIDEP of Niger in the all important group stage clincher next month.