Last updated 11 months ago | By Rodgers Eshitemi
Nicholas Kipkirui continued with his push for a place in the national team with a quick-fire brace as Gor Mahia thrashed Burundian side Aigle Noir CS 5-1 in yesterday's CAF Champions League preliminary round return leg tie at Kasarani Stadium.
The victory saw the record Kenyan champions secure a ticket to the first round of the continental competition where they will either meet cash-strapped USM Algiers of Algeria or Nigeria's SONIDEP.
"I'm proud to have scored a brace for my team more so, in such a crucial match. This performance will motivate me to work extra hard as we aim to improve our performance in the competition," a delighted Kipkirui told Standard Sports.
Gor took the lead in the ninth minute through Hamza Hitimana's own goal from Kipkirui's effort before the former Zoo man doubled the lead in the 17th minute.
Kipkirui then capitalised on Noir's defensive blunder to complete his brace at the stroke of halftime.
Explosive wingers Dickson Ambundo and Boniface Omondi capped their impressive performances with a goal each in the second half as Benjamin Gasongo scored the Blue Eagles' consolation goal.
K'Ogalo went into the match needing a comfortable win for them to progress after a barren first-leg draw in Bujumbura a fortnight ago.
And a relatively new-look Steve Pollack's side did it in style in front of their fans by producing a magnificent performance coupled with an emphatic victory.
"I'm really proud of my boys' performance. The two early goals destabilised our opponents," said Pollack.
Gor began on the front foot, aggressively pressing and were rewarded just after nine minutes when Hazimana scored into his net from Kipkirui's flick following captain Kenneth Muguna's well-executed cross from the right flank.
Kipkirui then forced a fine save from Noir goalkeeper Aime Ndizeye after being released through by Lawrence Juma before the duo combined well for Kipkirui's second goal.
Muguna saw his effort deflected for a fruitless corner on the half-hour mark before the Burundian side made an early substitution with Akonkwa Akimana paving way for Keita Seidou.
Omondi nearly extended the lead in the 36th minute but his poor first touch let him down.
Burundi's first chance of the game came in the 40th minute through Christian Kanyamuneza but his long-range effort didn't trouble goalkeeper David Mapigano.
Mugana almost got his name on the scoresheet three minutes into the second half but a Noir defender made a quick recovery to deny him.
Gor intensified their attack and in the 63rd minute, Ambundo opened his goals account at Gor after volleying home Boniface Omondi's rebound in the area.
Two minutes later, Kipkirui thought he had completed his hat-trick only for it to be ruled offside.
But Omondi finally capped his impressive performance with a beautiful goal in the 68th minute before Benjamin Gasongo scored a consolation for the visitors.