Gor Mahia found themselves trailing early in the second half after Vegetarianos took the lead in the 55th minute but they equalized late into extra time to force a draw and add to 2-0 home win two weeks ago.
The Kenyan champions had beaten Vegetarianos 2-0 in the first leg played at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos and they confirmed their dominance with a draw away to move to the next round on a 3-1 aggregate.
Gor Mahia’s progression to the first round was welcome news to Kenyan fans, who had earlier watched helplessly as AFC Leopards crushed out of the lower tier competition, Caf Confederation Cup, after they were held to a 0-0 draw by Madagascar’s Fosa Juniors.
Gor Mahia coach, Dylan Kerr went to the match with a defensive mindset, drafting five defenders into the starting line-up with Wesley Onguso pushing Godfrey Walusimbi up in the midfielder.
With a solid defence, Gor Mahia found space to play some creative passes with Humphrey Mieno and Walusimbi dictating the proceedings despite a low start in the first half at the smooth surface of Nuevo Estadio de Malabo Stadium.
Gor Mahia will next face off with Esperance de Tunis, who beat ASAC Concorde 5-0 in the return leg to qualify 6-1 on aggregate. The two sides played out to a one-all draw in the first leg.
If Esperance’s performance is anything to go by, then Kerr will need to sharpen his striking force between now and March to go past their next opponents, who have so far scored six goals in the competition compared to Gor Mahia’s three.
Gor Mahia squad: Boniface Oluoch, Wesley Onguso, Joash Onyango, Haron Shakava, Wellington Ochieng, Godfrey Walusimbi, Ernest Wendo, Humphrey Mieno, Francis Kahata, Kevin Omondi and Meddie Kagere.
Reserves: Shaban Odhonji, George Odhiambo, Ephraim Guikan, Charles Momanyi, Bernard Ondieki, Patrick Opiyo and Philemon Otieno.