Issoufou Dayo and Bakre El Helali scored in either half as Morocco's RS Berkane hit Kenyan champions Gor Mahia 2-0 at the Kasarani Stadium on Sunday evening to put one foot in the semi-finals of the CAF Confederations Cup.
Berkane gave themselves a huge advantage over Gor who before the Moroccans visit in Nairobi had not lost a continental tie at the stadium.
"We prepared very well for this game at home because we knew we were coming to face a tough side. Gor Mahia is one of the best improved team in the continent and it was never easy. I am happy we could win and this gives us an edge, but it is not yet over. We have to work harder for the return leg," Berkane tactician Mounir Jaouani stated after the match.
His opposite number Hassan Oktay who watched the game from the stands due to his single match suspension was dejected and blamed the loss on the absence of four of his key players who were suspended.
"It was always going to be difficult for us. We lost the team balance because of the absence of these players and we couldn't play our game. Berkane had their chances and used them. But this is football; you never give up. We go to the second leg and we keep fighting," Oktay stated.
The visitors started brighter and opened the scoring after 24 minutes, Omar Namsaoui's well delivered freekick from the right finding Dayo unmarked inside the box to connect home.
Consecutively, Gor had chances to draw back level after scoring, but a combination of poor finishing and good goalkeeping from Abdelaali M'hamdi ensured Berkane remained in the lead.
Two minutes after going down G Kenneth Muguna's cross was blocked into Charles Momanyi's path, but the centre back swiveled his shot way over the bar when he had time and space to control.
In the 30th minute, Francis Kahata, who was Gor's brightest player, took the ball on the right, created space on his favorite left foot before wrapping it around the ball but the exquisite curling shot attracted an equally brilliant save from the keeper.
Gor won a corner just a minute after Kahata's chance, the ball landing on Boniface Omondi but his shot after taking a deflection inside the box was turned away by the keeper. Another set piece opened up a chance for Gor, this time Momanyi's header off a Kahata corner being tipped over the bar.
Gor were almost caught on the counter as they pushed in attack, but they had keeper Fredrick Odhiambo to thank after he made a decisive block to deny El Helali after he was put through on goal by Namsaoui.
On the turn, Omondi had a chance for Gor when Dennis Oliech put him through and a brilliant first touch opened up shooting space, but his effort went inches wide.
Gor started the second half with an intention of going for the kill and 10 minutes in Omondi had a chance when he cited some good space ahead of him for a shot but his effort went over the bar.
Their efforts were however pricked in the belly on the hour mark when El Helali easily turned away from Philemon Otieno off an Namsaoui cross before slotting the ball into the top left corner.
Gor made changes, Omondi coming off for Samuel Onyango while Oliech was hauled off for Erisa Ssekisambu. However, they lacked the creativity upfront and Tuyisenge's absence was loudly telling as they failed to get anything off the home tie.
Heading into the return in Berkane, Gor have a mountain to climb as they need at least three clear goals to progress to the semis.