NAIROBI, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) — Kenyan league winners Gor Mahia FC’s chances of qualifying for the group stage of the CAF Confederations Cup took a huge blow after a damaging 1-0 home defeat to Zambia’s Napsa Stars in Nairobi on Sunday.
Napsa left it late to clinch the advantage with Daniel Odaka scoring the decisive goal for the visitors in the 86th minute of the first leg clash.
The home side, who spurned several opportunities in a slow burner match, has it all to do to advance with the second leg set to be played next Sunday in Zambia.
With the game seemingly headed for a stalemate, Adoko capitalized on a defensive blunder by Geoffrey Ochieng’ to fire in the winner from 20 yards, his powerful shot giving Gor custodian Boniface Oluoch no chance.
Fans were locked out of the game despite Gor getting clearance from the Ministry of Health to allow 30 percent of the 30,000-seater capacity with the club announcing earlier on Sunday that the decision to allow some 9,000 supporters had been rescinded by authorities.
Austin Banda had the early chance to give Napsa the lead in the opening half but after outsmarting Andrew Juma, Ochieng’ arrived to thwart his effort before he could pull the trigger.
Gor fired back through a header from midfielder Nicholas Kipkurui that was just over the bar after he attacked a cross from the right delivered by fellow forward Jules Ulimwengu.
Back came the Zambians who threatened when Dickson Chapa and Jacob Ngulube traded quick passes between them before the latter fired narrowly off target with Oluoch, who had raced off his line, beaten.
The home side then spurned a chance to go in front in the 25th minute when Philemon Otieno missed the target when put through by Kipkurui and moments later, Ulimwengu shot straight at the keeper when he was found unmarked in the box.
At the break, Gor Brazilian head coach Manuel Vaz Pinto rang the changes, with Kipkurui, Ulimwengu, and Alpha Onyango paving way for Samuel Onyango, Tito Okello, and John Macharia as he sought a breakthrough.
The substitutions almost paid off save for profligate finishing with Gor wasting three presentable chances before the hour mark.
Napsa were content on soaking up the pressure as the game wore on, with their head coach, Mohammed Fathi leaving Jimmy Mukeya upfront as his side waited to spring the counter.
The gamble paid off handsomely when the Zambians raced forward and pounced close to the death to leave Nairobi with the first leg advantage and a crucial away goal.