CAF Champions League: Onyango Brace Powers Gor Past Lobi Stars

Dec 16 - by Louis Kalinga for SportPesa News

SPL champions need to finish the job in the second leg in Nigeria to qualify for the group stages and earn KSh55m

Gor Mahia FC players hurdle ahead of their SPL clash against Bandari FC on December 8, 2018. PHOTO/SPN

  • K'Ogalo will be out to finish the job in the return leg in Nigeria next Sunday to bag the KSh55m on offer for advancing to the group stages of the elite continental club showpiece
  • It should have been four in the 38th as the rampant SPL winners terrorised the Lobi defence. Shafiq Batambuze chested it down for Humphrey Mieno who skipped past a defender before his shot was blocked on its way to the goal
  • Najeem Olukokun joined the fray in the 83rd in place of Yaya Kone and the visitors almost reduced the deficit four minutes from full time only for Joash Onyango to superbly block Austine Ongunye’s goal bound effort

NAIROBI, Kenya- Samuel Onyango starred as Gor Mahia FC took a huge steps towards advancing to the group stages of the 2018/19 CAF Champions League when they outclassed Lobi Stars FC of Nigeria 3-1 in the first leg of their clash on Sunday in Nairobi.

The SportPesa Premier League (SPL) winners seized the advantage through a first half brace from Sammy Onyango after returning Jacques Tuyisenge put them in front with the Nigerians notching their away goal from a corner through Mathias Samuel.

K'Ogalo will be hoping to finish the job in the return leg in Nigeria next Sunday to bag the KSh55m on offer for advancing to the group stages of the elite continental club showpiece where they need to avoid at least a 2-0 defeat.

The loser of the tie on aggregate will drop to the two-legged CAF Confederations Cup play-off to enter the group stages of the second tier competition.

Having notched a first victory of their SPL title defence midweek when they thumped Zoo Kericho 4-0, the record 17-time domestic winners were in control from the get go with the comeback of Rwanda international Tuyisenge a huge boost for Hassan Oktay’s side.

His assistant Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno had to watch from the stands as he serves a suspension from CAF for his behaviour on the touchline in a previous fixture against Nyasa Big Bullets FC where Gor breezed through 4-3 on post-match penalties after their two-legged preliminary round clash ended 1-1 on aggregate. 

While all the goals came in the first half, the entire match was an enthralling affair with Gor kicking proceedings off with intent.

Two minutes into the contest Onyango tried to pick out Francis Kahata with a deft chip into the box but it was a little too high for the Harambee Stars midfielder. 

The record domestic league winners kept up the pace and Philemon Otieno picked out Burundi forward Francis Mustapha with a cheeky through ball but but Ospina Egbe in the Lobi goal was alert to the danger. 

However, the home supporters did not wait for long and in the sixth, they went into frenzy Kahata pulled off a brilliant through ball into the path of Tuyisenge who blasted it past Egbe to give Gor an early 1-0 lead. 

In the 12th, Kahata, who started his first continental game for Gor after his rumoured transfer to Algeria fell apart, stole the ball from Chiedebube Duru and delivered yet another delightful ball into the box but Mustapha’s follow-up was saved well by Egbe. 

Lobi got their first shot in the 17th but Otakho Aghahowa’s shot went harmlessly wide of the goal. 

In the 20th, Kahata found Tuyisenge who turned provider with a ball into the area that caused confusion before Onyango pounced onto it with a bicycle kick to make it 2-0 to the home side, setting off another round of manic cheering. 

Tactical substitution

Lobi made an early tactical substitution in the 28th as striker John Lazarus replaced Umar Zango a defender and the switch had an immediate impact when Samuel rose to head in a corner for a 2-1 score line. 

Any hopes the Nigerians had of rattling the hosts were snuffed out three minutes later when Tuyisenge flicked a long ball to the path of Onyango who latched onto it before skipping past the goalkeeper and leaving two defenders on the ground to tap it in for a commanding 3-1 lead. 

It should have been four in the 38th as the rampant SPL winners terrorised the Lobi defence. Shafiq Batambuze chested it down for Humphrey Mieno who skipped past a defender before his shot was blocked on its way to the goal. 

The break came too soon for the cheering Green Army as Oktay’s men went in 3-1 to the good at half time with the merry-making of a vibrant home supporters escorting them to the dressing room.

Lobi emerged a different side as they sought a way back into the game in the hunt for another crucial away goal.

However, after weathering an early storm in the second stanza, Gor pressed the front foot with Tuyisenge threatening in the 51st when he did well to get to a long ball from Batambuze but Egbe rose to punch away as he shaped to square the ball to Mustapha inside the box. 

Eight minutes later, the crowd were up on their feet in when Gor put together 13 passes before Kahata chipped it forward to Mustapha who exchanged a neat one-two with Tuyisenge but the Rwanda international’s shot went agonisingly over the bar. 

Lobi made their second change of the game in the 65th as David Tyavkase replaced Ezekiel Mbah and moments later, almost fell further behind when Tuyisenge lobbed the ball over keeper but his finish went over an unguarded net.

Oktay brought on winger George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo for the hero of the hour before the next turn of play before Ernest Wendo went into the referee’s book for the first caution of the game in the 69th. 

Ten minutes later, Tuyisenge trotted off for Kenneth Muguna as Gor continued to look for another goal to improve their healthy advantage. 

Najeem Olukokun joined the fray in the 83rd in place of Yaya Kone and the visitors almost reduced the deficit four minutes from full time only for Joash Onyango to superbly block Austine Ongunye’s goal bound effort.

The Kenyan giants will be hoping to avoid slipping to the Confed Cup for a second season in a row after losing their first round Champions League clash to eventual champions Esperance de Tunis 1-0 on aggregate last term.

K'Ogalo edged out South African side SuperSport United FC in the Confed Cup play-off on away goals after their two legged clash ended 2-2 before missing out on the quarterfinals of the competition by a single point when they trailed USM Alger (Algeria) and Rayon Sport (Rwanda) in the final group standings.

Cypriot Oktay was in charge for his second match since he was confirmed the successor to British national, Dylan Kerr, who led the side to their 17th crown and the group stages of the Confed Cup last season.