IN RUBAVU, RWANDA
Gor Mahia coach Hassan Oktay praised his new arsenal after watching them impress and storm the quarter-finals of the ongoing Cecafa Kagame Cup with a routine 2-0 victory over Djibouti's AS Port here at the Umugunda stadium in Rubavu.
Kenyan clubs have always had it easy against opposition from Djibouti (remember Kariobangi Sharks' 9-1 aggregate score on Artar Solar in the Confederation Cup last year?) and Gor seemed determined to maintain this advantage.
Boniface Omondi stepped off the bench to open the scoring for the second string K'Ogalo side in the 70th minute.
New recruit Dennis Oalo thereafter scored his first ever goal in a Gor Mahia shirt, the second of the contest, with the final kick of this game.
He managed the feat with a solo effort after practically worming through a forest of tired legs from the boys in blue.
Omondi meanwhile had reacted quickest to a cross into the danger area from fellow sub Kenneth Muguna.
And as AS Port defenders stood there ball watching, he stretched his right foot and stabbed home the ball past an advancing Nasradin Abdi, who was guarding the opposing goal.
This result temporarily moves the Kenyan champions to the top of Group 'D' after garnering maximum points in two games.
"I had to check my new signings today," said Oktay when responding to a question on why he made nine changes in this match.
"I like the way our opponents worked very hard. They give everything. I have asked my players to try and emulate that."
Gor also beat DR Congo's AS Maniema 2-1 on Monday.
AS Port have three points, while Zanzibar's Kikosi Maalum Cha Kuzuia Magendo (KMKM) and Maniema who are set to face off Wednesday evening, are yet to pick a point in this group.
Oktay host of changes were influenced by this match coming 48 hours after the clash versus Maniema.
First choice keeper Boniface Oluoch was dropped to the bench and replaced by another new signing in the frame of David Mapigano.
Similarly, first teamers including captain Harun Shakava who reportedly is unwell, Charles Momanyi, Tobias Otieno, Nicholas Kipkurui and Boniface Omondi were all benched.
This match was preceded by a minute of silence in honour of Kenyan great Joe Kadenge who passed on earlier this week.
Then the physically imposing Kenyan team settled first and fast.
In the opening minute, rookie Erick Ombija should have done better when he was played through on goal by Hashim Sempala. Instead, the lad took time to settle, required an extra touch in the box before sending a feeble shot that was well gathered.
Moments later, Dickson Ambundo blazed over the bar when perhaps some composure could have yielded better results.
The pendulum would soon swing AS Port's way as Mapigano, playing in his first game since joining Gor from Tanzania's Singida United, parried away a dangerous free kick from Mouhamed Ahmed.
Mapigano had to be at stand by again to thwart a one on one attack from Ghanaian danger man Gabriel Dadzie.
"We played a better team. We cannot complain. The two goals we conceded came towards the end because my players were tired. Others were injured," said AS Port coach Mouhamed Mereneh.
In other results, Rwandan champions Rayon Sport beat South Sudan's Albatara 2-0 in Kigali, Uganda's KCCA upset Tanzania's Azam 1-0 in Huye as former African champions TP Mazembe defeated Tanzania's KMC by a solitary goal.
Proline (Uganda) v Green Eagles (Zambia)
APR (Rwanda) v Heegan (Somalia)