Kenya champions, Gor Mahia was left ruing missed chances after being held to a barren draw at home by Esperance of Tunisia in Machakos on Wednesday.
The hosts had lots of chances in the opening 45 minutes but a combination of great goalkeeping from Moez Ben Cherifa and some poor finishing saw the Tunisians leave the first leg with a draw.
I feel we had a very good performance today and we played our hearts out. We showed that we can match Esperance and I am only disappointed we could not take our chances. But I have a feeling if we play like this in Tunisia, we can even go on and score, Gor defender Harun Shakava said.
His coach Dylan Kerr was equally pleased with the performance but regrets the chances they threw away.
I walked up to them after the game and told them if they can give me this same performance in Tunisia, we will win. Their goalkeeper made three brilliant saves to keep them in the game and to be honest; we should have buried some chances. I am proud of the team and hopefully we carry this on to Tunisia, the British born coach said.
Esperance had the earliest of chances at goal with a Youssef Bellaili shot from a distance which went wide. Gor took on the mantle from there and totally controlled the tempo of the match.
The Kenyan side was denied by the upright in the 16th minute after Jacques Tuyisenge broke on the right to shoot with the keeper beaten.
Ben Cherifia pulled a brilliant save in the 22nd minute to deny Meddie Kagere who had been set up by George Odhiambo, the keeper springing up to save Kagere’s effort from the edge of the six yard box. A minute later, Cherifia pulled another brilliant one-handed save to parry away a Tuyisenge header.
Gor had another superb opportunity in the 37th minute when Joash Onyango’s header from the right across the face of goal went inches wide from a Francis Kahata corner.
In the second half, the visitors were more industrious in attack. They came close in the 62nd minute when Boniface Oluoch and Shakava clashed going for the same ball, Haitham Jouini toe poking between them but the ball went wide.
As Esperance piled bodies forward, Gor found a chance on the break and Godfrey Walusimbi tried his luck with a shot from distance but it sailed wide. Kerr made changes bringing off Kahata for Kevin Omondi, Philemon Otieno off for Bernard Ondiek while Samuel Onyango came on for Odhiambo.
But, their fate couldn’t change its tide, the game ending barren.
Source: Confederation Africaine de Football