Gor Mahia saved the best for the last, scoring twice in stoppage time to edge out APR of Rwanda 3-1 in a thrilling Caf Champions League preliminary round return leg at Nyayo National Stadium on Saturday.
It’s substitutes Sydney Ochieng’ and Nicholas Kipkirui who ensured Gor proceeded to the first round on a 4-3 aggregate score after Keddy Nsanzimfura had cancelled Samuel Onyango’s first half opener with only seven minutes left to play.
Gor, who lost the first leg 2-1 in the first leg in Kigali, went ahead in the 18 minute through Onyango shortly after Jacques Tuyisenge had missed a penalty.
K’Ogalo had conceded a penalty in the 10th minute after Andrew ‘Roma’ Juma fouled Tuyisenge inside the box. K’Ogalo custodian Gad Mathews, who was making his debut, made a superb one-hand save to his right to prevent Gor from falling further behind on aggregate.
Eight minutes later, Onyango scored from a set piece situation after Kenneth Muguna delivered sumptuously into the box.
K’Ogalo continued their dominance in the game forcing APR’s Moroccan coach Adil Erradi to withdraw Seif Niyonzima for Yanick Bizimana in the 28th minute.
APR had a clear chance to equalise but Gad Mathews punched Claude Niyomugabo’s header outside the field of play.
In the second half K’Ogalo came determined to get another goal as stand-in coach Pamzo Omollo made a double change bringing in Cliffton Miheso and Sydney Otieno for Tito Okello and Bernard Ondiek respectively.
With 20 minutes to go teenage sensation Benson Omala almost added a second for the record champions with a thunderous shot but the ball veered inches wide with Rwabuguri well beaten.
Substitute Keddy Nsanzimfura then sent the visitors’ bench to a frenzy when he scored from a long range shot to level matters.
A nervy ending ensued as Omollo summoned Kipkirui from the bench to replace Muguna. Sydney netted in the 92nd minute to restore Gor’s chances before Kipkirui sealed passage to the first round with a late header from a Clifton Miheso corner.
Gor stand to earn Sh58 million upon qualification to the group stage and upto Sh250 million for winning this prestigious competition.
Gor will meet either Al-Nasr of Libya or Algerian champions CR Belouizdad in the first round.
Al-Nasr will be looking to overturn the 2-1 defeat in the first leg when the two teams meet in the reverse fixture on Sunday in Libya.