Mashemeji Derby: Champions Gor, Leopards Set For Eternal Battle

Feb 08 - by Louis Kalinga for SportPesa News

It will be interesting to see how Oktay chooses to line-up, especially up front due to another huge factor ahead of the mouth-watering fixture, which is the availability of Kenya’s record goal scorer Dennis Oliech

Gor Mahia FC striker Dennis Oliech in action during the SportPesa Cup in Dar es Saalam, Tanzania. PHOTO/SPN

  • With only a day left until the 85th Mashemeji Derby, the entire local football fraternity is eagerly waiting to witness two of Kenya’s most successful football clubs battle it out for supremacy at the Kasarani Stadium
  • Record domestic league winners Gor Mahia FC will host 12-time champions AFC Leopards SC in the SportPesa Premier League (SPL) first leg showdown as both sides come into the fixture with very different targets
  • Champions Gor sit in fourth with 19 points but have two games in hand and a victory against their eternal rivals will work well in their favor as they seek to gain momentum in the league standings
  • Mbungo will be thrown right into the deep end with a fixture that Leopards have failed to emerge victorious since a 1-0 triumph in 2016, courtesy of a late Lamine Diallo strike

NAIROBI, Kenya- With only a day left until the 85th Mashemeji Derby, the entire local football fraternity is eagerly waiting to witness two of Kenya’s most successful football clubs battle it out for supremacy at the Kasarani Stadium.

Record domestic league winners Gor Mahia FC will host 12-time champions AFC Leopards SC in the SportPesa Premier League (SPL) first leg showdown as both sides come into the fixture on the back of contrasting fortunes.

Champions Gor sit in fourth with 19 points but have two games in hand and a victory against their eternal rivals will work well in their favor as they seek to gain momentum in the league standings, in their quest to win an unparalleled 18th league crown.

Leopards on the other hand are having a season to forget as they are only a point above the relegation zone in 15th place, coming off three straight defeats, most recently a 2-1 loss to lowly Mt. Kenya United FC.

READ ALSO: Highly Anticipated Mashemeji Derby Offers Special Valentines Day Getaway

The recent appointment of Andre Casa Mbungo as the new coach, made it the third time that there has been a change of guard for Ingwe in this season alone following the departure of Serbian countrymen Nikola Kavazovic and Marko Vasiljevik.

"I've had little time to work with the players but we have another training session before the derby that I will use to instill the philosophy we plan to use in the game.

"I am confident that we can work towards a positive result and I call on the fans to come in large numbers to support us," Mbungo underlined.

Mbungo will be thrown right into the deep end with a fixture that Leopards have failed to emerge victorious since a 1-0 triumph in 2016, courtesy of a late Lamine Diallo strike.

Gor coach Hassan Oktay has expressed belief in his squad but refuses to treat the fixture as though it is something special so as to maintain the level of focus in his side.

“I know how the fans value this fixture but for me and my players, we will get onto the pitch with only one thing in mind- to win.

“The atmosphere will be better than it is for other league games and that will be great for everyone. We’re coming off two crucial wins and if we stick to the script, we can make it three on Saturday,” the Turkish tactician told SportPesa News.

Nicholas Kipkirui was the hero for Gor in midweek as his goal was enough for them to register an important 1-0 win against Vihiga United FC at the Bukhungu Stadium.

READ ALSO: Six Talking Points Ahead Of Huge Gor, Leopards SPL Mashemeji Derby

It will be interesting to see how Oktay chooses to line-up, especially up front due to another huge factor ahead of the mouth-watering fixture, which is the availability of Kenya’s record goal scorer Dennis Oliech.

Oliech joined Gor last month and has since scored four times in seven outings, proving to the legion of Kenyan football fans that he still has what it takes and he will get the perfect opportunity to show it in his first ever Mashemeji Derby tomorrow.

“This is a huge game for both clubs and all I can say is that I’m ready to give it what it takes to help my team.

“If called upon tomorrow, I’ll be ready to do my best. A win is what we are after and it is very important that we retain the league title,” 34-year old Oliech underlined.

Despite the recent poor run of form for Leopards, players and fans alike are still hanging on to a glimmer of hope that they can improve and still finish the season in a respectable position.

READ ALSO: Gor Mahia, Stima Record Slim SPL Wins As Mt. Kenya Slay Leopards

“It has been a tough run recently but I know we have what it takes to improve and turn our season around.

“It all starts tomorrow with the derby and I call on our fans to come and show us support. There is still time left in the league and how we finish begins with the sort of performance we put on tomorrow,” Leopards captain Robinson Kamura stated.

Though tomorrow will be a derby of many firsts, the underlying factor remains that it’s a well-known battle, the oldest Kenyan football rivalry that promises to be a spectacle despite both teams recent form.