Kenya’s Confederation Cup representative Gor Mahia beat Zimbabwe’s Caps United 2-0 in a build-up match played at Naivasha’s Sher Stadium.
Gor’s lethal striker Habil Otieno opened the account for the home side in the 31st minute after he fastened onto a perfect pass from the impressive George Odhiambo to beat Caps United’s burly goalkeeper Edmore Sibanda with a tricky shot.
Both teams started the match cautiously, with the Zimbabweans dictating the midfield play with some sublime touches with Gor players chasing the shadows as the match gained tempo.
Hardworking Caps midfielder, Milanzi Lulu, tormented the Kenyan side with deft touches and telling moves to the delight of the small crowd.
He beat two Gor defenders a laid a through ball to the charging Rusike Tafadwa who beat advancing Gor goalkeeper, Jerry Onyango, but failed to connect into a yawning net in the 22nd minute.
The tide of the game changed with the Kenyan side growing in stature. Veteran Julius Owino won a midfield battle and played a one-two with Odhiambo before releasing Otieno to score with a first time touch.
The ball swung from end to end with goal poacher Habil Otieno proving to be a thorn in the Zimbabwean defence marshalled by the towering Kutyauripo David.
On resumption, Gor came back a rejuvenated side, with big striker Christopher Wekesa forcing a diving save from Sibanda in the 42nd minute.
Urged on by the crowd, the home side played some purposeful football as the hot weather began to take its toll on the gallant Zimbabwean side.
Captain Owino, in his trademark overlapping style, floated a perfect ball for Wekesa to head in the 47th minute leaving Sibanda stranded in goal.
Gor coach James Siang’a rested Elijah Ochieno for Charles Otundo as they continued to dictate the pace. Caps United midfielder, Machapa Oscar, worked tirelessly but was let down by the blunt striking force led by Mushekwi Nyasha.
Gor’s defence manned by captain Owino and Francis Akango was resolute throughout the match, giving goalkeeper Jerry Onyango an easy time.
Siang’a was elated with the victory, saying the boys played to instructions. “I wanted to see how the young players would cope and they have proved their worth,” he said.
He was, however, worried by the injury on dependable defender, Nathan Munai, who was injured early in the first half. A Zimbabwean official described Gor as a good team and very solid in all the departments.
Meanwhile, Kenya’s representatives in the CAF Champions League, Mathare United, were due to fly out on Friday morning for Zambia where they will face their preliminary round opponents Zesco.
The first round, first leg tie will be played on Saturday in Ndola, Zambia’s second largest city situated to the north of the country some 10km from the border with DR Congo.
Mathare squad: Duncan Ochieng, Kevin Omondi, Kennedy Omogi, Dennis Nzoma, Joseph Nyaga, Vincent Otieno, Crispine Ochieng, Paul Ambembo, Paul Oyoo, Austin Makacha, Anthonby Wanjohi, Martin Kokane, Lloyd Wahome, Fredrick Ochieng, Kevin Oliech, Andrew Oyombe, Edgar Ochieng, Kevin Ochieng.