Rayon 1-1 Gor Mahia
RWANDAN champions Rayon Sports were held to a 1-all draw by Kenyan giants Gor Mahia on Sunday as the two sides faced off in one of the two Group D opening fixtures in the 2018 CAF Confederation Cup.
Ugandan-born Rwanda international Meddie Kagere broke the deadlock eight minutes into the game to hand Gor Mahia an early lead after beating defenders Gabriel Mugabo and Faustin Usengimana and goalkeeper Eric Bakame Ndayishimiye.
But the hosts equalised in the 23th minute, thanks to a brilliantly taken free-kick from Eric Rutanga.
Despite conceding early, the Blues showed character and forward Hussein Tchabalala Shaban should have equalised as early as the 15th minute but his effort went wide.
Rayon grew in confidence as the match went on and started having more of the ball with multiple attempts to find the back of the opponents’ net but they found it hard to break through Gor Mahia’s defence until Rutanga’s free-kick a few metres outside the box.
The visitors had a chance to restore their lead ten minutes before half time, but Jacques Tuyisenge’s effort sailed inches off Bakame’s goal posts.
The teams went into break with the scoreline locked at 1-1.
In the second half, Ivan Minneart’s men picked up where they left off in the first, Tchabalala producing the first chance in the 52nd minute but Gor stood firm.
The Kenyan side then had a chance to take the lead for a second time after 55 minutes when Kagere showed his composure but Ndayishimiye was alert to deny him a brace on the night.
Burundi international Tchabalala came close to handing the hosts the lead in the 73rd minute, but goalkeeper Boniface Oluoch denied his effort from close range.
Malian forward Ismaila Diarra could have put the game to bed in the 65th minute, however, the striker was denied by the Oluoch.
Gor almost grabbed what could have been the winner through George Odhiambo Okutu but Bakame produced a great save to keep matters level going into the last 20 minutes of the play.
Gor forward Francis Kahata Nyambura had a chance to put the visitors ahead in the 82nd minute when he received a fantastic pass from Kagere only to produce an off-target attempt with the goal gaping.
The record 16-time Kenyan champions kept pressing forward in search for a goal in the closing stages of the match but could not break down the Rayon defence until the final whistle blow.
After the game, Rayon Sports head coach Ivan Minneart said: “We have a chance of doing better in next games. We played well but were panicking in the first half, understandably because it is our first time at this stage.”
On his part, Gor head coach Dylan Kerr told Times Sport: “This is a fantastic away result, every player on the team did an excellent job to ensure we don’t lose, especially the defenders.”
Meanwhile, by press time, hosts USM Alger of Algeria were leading 2-0 against Young Africans of Tanzania at half-time. The two matches involved teams in Group D, from which only two teams will qualify for the quarterfinals.
In their next match, Rayon Sports will play away to Young Africans of Tanzania while Gor will be visiting USM Alger of Algeria.
Both games will be played on May 16.
This is the first time that a Rwandan club have reached the group stage of any CAF club competition.