Kenya’s biggest derby postponed after violence emerged in 65th minute
BY STEVE NJUGUNA
It was a dark day for Kenyan football on Sunday as hooliganism reared its ugly head during the highly anticipated encounter between Gor Mahia FC and AFC Leopards at the Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi.
Full scale violence erupted in the 65th minute after Kenyan international Jackson Saleh handled the ball in the box causing center referee Peter Nduati to rightfully award Gor Mahia a penalty. Meddie Kagere stepped up to do the honors but before he could fire off his shot, AFC leopards fans started throwing projectiles onto the pitch forcing the match officials and players to scamper for safety. Police launched teargas into the fans sitting area a bid to quell the violence but this only seemed to fan the AFC fans into a riotous frenzy.
Gor Mahia fans were relatively calm compared to their counterparts though they also had to escape the sting of the teargas as well as the attacks from their AFC counterparts. A big number of fans and security officers sustained injuries as the police engaged the hooligans in running battles. There was large scale looting and vandalism of property as the fighting went on.
Prior to the violence, Gor Mahia had dominated the game as Michael Olunga and Meddie Kagere showed their tenacity in front of goal, constantly badgering the AFC back line and forcing Ingwe goalkeeper Lucas indeche into a string of good saves. Indeche was also alert to the danger posed by Gor Mahia winger Innocent Wafula whose marauding runs created chances for his team.
Leopards coach Zdravko Logarusic tried to play on the counter and he pulled out a surprise substitution pulling off Patrick ‘Petit’ Kagogo and replacing him with former Gor Mahia winger Timona Wanyonyi in the 36th minute as he searched for more thrust on the counter. However, it was AFC Leopards Captain Jackson Saleh who crumbled first as he handled the ball in the box, reminiscent of what he did during international duty against Congo. It remains to be seen whether the game will be awarded to Gor Mahia or whether it will be replayed.