AFRICAN Stars hold a narrow advantage over KCCA of Uganda after beating them 3-2 in the first leg of their Caf Champions League preliminary round match at the Sam Nujoma Stadium on Saturday.
A penalty by Aubrey Amseb and a late brace by Youssouf Ibroihim gave Stars the advantage over KCCA, who scored via an own goal by Ivan Kamberipa and a late goal by striker Patrick Kaddu.
With the return leg now due to take place in Kampala on 23 August, Stars hold a narrow lead, although KCCA's chances have been boosted by their two away goals.
Stars did the early attacking with Amseb and Marcel Papama putting in some strong runs, but KCCA took the lead against the run of play when Kamberipa tried to clear a cross from the right wing and headed it into his own net by mistake.
Stars came back strongly in the final stages of the first half, with Treasure Kauapirura hitting the crossbar from a corner, before Stars won a penalty for handball and Amseb converted the spot kick to draw them level just before the break.
Ibroihim put Stars ahead with a great goal midway through the second half, when he beat his defender on the left wing and cut inside before shooting the ball into the right hand corner of the net.
KCCA turned up the tempo and Stars defender Pat Uanivi cleared a shot by Kaddu off the line, before Kaddu tapped in the equaliser on 83 minutes after Stars' keeper Mbemutjiua Mata spilled a low driven cross from the left wing.
Two minutes, later, however, Ibroihim restored Stars' lead with another great solo goal from the left wing.
Stars' manager Mohammed Garbo expressed disappointment at their missed chances but remained confident ahead of the return leg.
"I am really angry that we had them, but we left them off the hook. We had a brand new team and we barely knew each other, but we still managed to create good chances and I think we will be much better in the return leg in Kampala.
"The positive are the way we took our time to build up from defence into attack, but like I said we are not complete yet, we are still new as a team and we still have more good players who are not even here yet - we must still confirm their registration, and thats why we came out with this team," he said.
"We are confident of reaching the next stage, because we have the players to do that," he added.
Garbo also refused to blame their goalkeeper Mata for the goals conceded.
"He is our number two goalkeeper and unfortunately our number one keeper has a serious injury and I think he needs surgery so we started to use our number two. This was a very big lesson for him and I'm sure he will rectify the little mistakes that he made before the return match," he said.
KCCA's coach Mike Mutebi also sounded optimistic ahead of the second leg.
"We conceded silly goals because of carelessness. They played well, they were at home, but I believe we will change in our second leg match at home.
It was a good game for the fans with attacking play from both sides and end to end stuff which is good for football, but I think in the return leg we will not be as careless as we were today," he said.
He said Stars proved that they were strong opponents.
"They don't have weaknesses, they are a good team and they have a lot of belief. A team that concedes and comes back with a goal shows they have a lot of belief and they will come again to play like they did today.
"On the continent now there are no small teams. If you do your thing right whether you are at home or away, you can get a result. So they don't have weaknesses, it is for us to correct our mistakes and we must put away those chances that we get," he said.