Gor Mahia earned a slim 1-0 advantage over Cameroon's New Star de Douala in the first leg of the play-off round at the Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi on Sunday evening. Jacques Tuyisenge struck the winner three minutes from time as Gor head into the return tie needing just to avoid defeat.
Gor head coach Hassan Oktay is confident his men will complete the job in the return leg next weekend and says he will work to firm up his defense as he looks to keep a clean sheet in West Africa.
"I believe we did well and I am very optimistic that we will win the second leg. We will go there to dominate and win the game. It is a bit disappointing that we conceded an away goal, but if we can go there and score one or two as well, it will be good for us," Oktay stated after the match.
His opposite number Gerald Mbimi was left disappointed with the performance of his team, saying at some point he couldn't recognize them.
"We were not good enough. Gor Mahia were better than us and I just don't know what happened to my players. The return match will be tough but we will go back and plan well for it," Mbimi said after the game.
In the late evening kick off, Benjamin Bechem scored the equalizer for the visitors in the 72nd minute after Lawrence Juma had taken the record Kenyan champions ahead in the first half.
Gor started on the front foot and came close after six minutes when Francis Kahata's well delivered cross from the right found Boniface Omondi inside the box but the pint-sized midfielder could not guide the ball home.
Three minutes later, Gor came so close when Omondi turned provider to pick out Francis Mustafa inside the box but the Burundian's connection came off the upright.
The visitors' first chance came through after 32 minutes with Gildas Njoh trying his luck from distance, but Boniface Oluoch collected with ease.
Gor finally broke the deadlock after 41 minutes when Juma picked up Shafik Batambuze's deep pass from the left before curling it beautifully past the keeper.
In the second half though, the visitors came back stronger and in the 72nd minute, substitute Bechem who had replaced Roland Lane equalized with a bullet header off a Bernard Ngangue corner.
After conceding, Gor boss Oktay switched into full attack mode, throwing into the mix Samuel Onyango and Erisa Ssekisambu for Omondi and Mustafa respectively.
Gor piled the pressure and ultimately, Tuyisenge came to the rescue three minutes from time with a thumping header off another of Batambuze's assists.