Some interesting facts to consider as we get into one of Kenya’s largest sporting events.
BY STEVE NJUGUNA
The Mashemeji Derby is upon us and there are five important talking points we have to consider as Gor Mahia face their perennial archrivals AFC Leopards.
1. The money factor
Both teams are facing financial struggles but Gor Mahia seems to be better off than Ingwe as their fans and sponsors have organized various fund raising forums to alleviate the financial burden. As for AFC Leopards, there has been no shortage of drama as management issues and alleged misappropriation of funds led to a mass exodus of players during the mid-season transfer period.
2. Tactical Battle
It will be interesting to see who will be the victor between K’ogalo coach Frank Nuttal and Ingwe coach Zdravko Logarusic. Nuttal boasts an unbeaten run in the Kenya Premier League this season while AFC are on a 3 game losing streak. Analysts tend to think that Nuttal will have the upper hand with his talented strike force though AFC Leopards will pen their hopes on midfield dynamo Bernard Mangoli who has been one of the best players in the league this season.
3. The safety factor
There seems to be a relative sense of anxiety amongst Nairobi residents as the usual running battles between Gor Mahia and Leopards fans and police, accentuated by wanton looting by hooligans sheds a negative light on the derby. Though recent editions have been trouble free, recent unexplained fanatic trouble by the two sets of supporters increases the mystery and anxiety leading many to believe the derby could end in chaos.
4. Olunga vs the world
Michael Olunga has been the darling of Kenyan football this season with his eye for goals and his wonderful technical ability. His striking partnership with Rwandese maestro Meddie Kagere has also been very successful. He is likely to be Gor’s source of goals for the derby.
5. The experience factor
AFC Leopards contain arguably some of the most experienced midfielders with the likes of Ivan Anguyo and Joseph ‘Pablo’ and Timona Wanyonyi who have all interacted with Gor at one time or another. Gor Mahia will enjoy the services of Collins Okoth ‘Gattusso’ alongside former Tusker midfielder Khalid Aucho.
It will be a battle of both young and old as the Nyayo National Stadium braces itself for the encounter.