Gor Mahia edged New Stars de Douala of Cameroon 2-1 in the first leg of the Caf Confederation Cup play-off at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on Sunday.
Jacques Tuyisenge secured the win for the Kenyan champions with three minutes left after Lawrence Juma’s 41st minute opener was cancelled out in the second half by Benjamin Bechem on 72 minutes.
The hosts took control early on and almost took the lead a minute into the match but Patrick Kibyen reacted fast to collect Philemon Otieno’s right foot in-swinger
In the sixth minute, Boniface Omondi could have opened the scoring but he failed to tap home Francis Kahata’s weighted pass from the right as Gor dominated proceedings.
Francis Mustafa was denied by the upright on the ninth minute after he had been teed up wonderfully by Boniface Omondi from the left flank.
The diminutive winger had done well to nutmeg his marker before floating in a cross that the Burundian controlled on his chest before his shot crashed on the upright.
New Stars, donning blue shirts, contrived to sit back and catch their opponents on the counter.
On 12 minutes, Nelson Moukeu fouled Philemon outside the 18-yard box but Kahata’s casually taken free kick came off the wall.
Omondi, a constant menace with his mazy runs on the flanks, fluffed another scoring opportunity on 29 minutes after being fed by Kahata. He lost his footing before New Stars defence cleared their lines.
Gildas Njoh had the first real chance for the visitors on 31 minutes with a dipping cross from range that troubled Boniface Oluoch in Gor Mahia goal before sailing over the bar.
On 35 minutes, Ayamo Soglongbe was brought down by Philemon Otieno 18 yards out as the visitors gained momentum but Nelson Moukeu curved the resultant free kick off the target.
Four minutes to the half time break, Juma gave hundreds of Gor fans that had turned up at the 60,000-seater something to smile about.
Juma took Shafik Batambuze’s deep pass from the left flank in his stride before lifting the ball over his marker into an empty net after Kibyen had dramatically left his line protesting his water bottle had been picked from the post by a steward.
New Stars defender Orian Jores was the first to go into Tunisian referee Guirat Haythem’s book on 67 minutes after bringing down a full-flight Mustafa just outside the box on the left flank.
Mustafa missed another glorious opportunity on 71 minutes when he was found by Omondi inside the box but went down softly calling for a penalty.
He was punished on the other end by Bechem, who rested Roland Lane on 59 minutes, who rose high to connect to Bernard Ngangue’s corner with a bullet header that gave Oluoch no chance.
In a bid to boost his attack, Gor coach Hassan Oktay sent the duo of Samuel Onyango and Erisa Ssekisambu into the fray at the expense of Boniface Omondi and Francis Mustafa on 76 and 77 minutes respectively.
It was Batambuze who provided his second assist on the day finding Tuyisenge with a sumptuous cross from the left wing that the Rwandese nodded home unmarked.
K’Ogalo need a draw of any kind in the reverse tie in Limbe next Sunday to progress to the group stage of this competition.