Kenyan champions Tusker FC picked up a crucial away goal as they played to a 1-1 draw against Djibouti side Arta Solar 7 in the first leg of the TotalEnergies CAF Champions League preliminary round tie in Djibouti City on Saturday.
Former Burkina Faso international and ex AS Monaco forward Alain Traore scored the equalizer for the Djiboutian debutants just two minutes after Tanzanian Joshua Ibrahim had given the visitors the lead.
The home side believed they should have scored more goals from the match and moved to the return leg in Nairobi with at least a win to give them a chance of advancing to the next round.
“We dominated most parts of the game and controlled the tempo and should have had at least one or two more goals. But it was a very difficult game against a difficult opponent and at the end of the day I think a point is a fair result. We now regroup and look forward to the second leg away from home,” said Arta Solar Seven captain, former Cameroon international Alex Song.
Tusker FC goalscorer Ibrahim was excited to score in his first competitive match for Tusker.
“It is always a player’s dream to score on their debut and I am excited. I believe we did well especially looking at the conditions where we played in extremely hot conditions. This is a positive result for us and looking towards the return tie, I believe we can get a win and progress to the next round,” said the Tanzanian.
Ibrahim gave Tusker the lead after 14 minutes when he ran on to a long ball before unleashing a left foot volley into the bottom left corner leaving the keeper rooted to his spot.
But, the home side responded on the restart. Traore was brought down on the box by Kalos Kirenge and he took the resultant freekick, swinging it beyond the wall and past keeper Emery Mvuyekure.
The two teams sized each other up in the remaining minutes of the opening half, but there weren’t many clear cut chances.
In the second half, the home side came back stronger and Mvuyekure was forced to work just eight minutes after the restart when he did well to punch off a fierce shot from Gabriel Dadzie who had broken away on the right.
Tusker made changes, Apollo Otieno coming in midfield for Clyde Senaji while Jackson Macharia was also pulled out for John Njuguna. The Kenyan champions were forced to make another change when goal scorer Ibrahim had to come off injured and was replaced by Teddy Osok.
But it was the hosts who were more dominant in the second half with possession passing, anchored by the experience of Song in midfield.
The introduction of former West Ham striker Diafra Sakho added some punch in attack. He almost scored five minutes atter coming on when he took on a run on the right, but under pressure from Kalos KIrenge, he shot wide.
With the heat taking a toll on the visitors, Arta tried to push them deep into their own half but couldn’t score a winner to take the advantage heading in to the return tie in Nairobi next weekend.