Last updated 2 years ago | By Rodgers Eshitemi
It’s Mashemeji derby day as AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia clash in one of the biggest games in the Kenyan footballing season at Kasarani Stadium today at 3pm.
With unbeaten Gor Mahia having a nine point lead at the summit, 13 points ahead of fifth placed Leopards, but save for the bragging rights there maybe a little at stake for either team.
However, in derbies there is no favourite and neither teams want to lose to their fierce rivals, hence making it a thriller.
Gor Mahia warmed up for the derby with a convincing 4-0 victory over Tanzanian giants Yanga in the CAF Confederations Cup Group D match on Wednesday night, five days after Leopards had been frustrated to a barren draw by Bandari in a league action.
Even though Gor are motivated by recent continental competitions’ exploits and an outstanding record over Leopards, their Briton coach Dylan Kerr is not taking chances.
“It is a battle of warriors with pride at stake. I think our attitude towards this game will be more important than anything else,” Kerr told the Standard Sports.
“But I am not over expecting anything, I just want our motivation to be winners.”
And with K’Ogalo beating Leopards, 5-4 on post-match penalties in the Hull City Challenge two months ago in Nakuru, revenge will be on the cards for Rodolfo Zapata’s men, who have not beaten their eternal rivals in the last five meetings.
“We are very ready. A derby is won through team effort and I’m always positive. I respect Gor Mahia, but we have a rich history and they need to respect it too. I also strongly believe in my players,” said Zapata.
While Leopards will be plotting to capitalise on Gor’s fatigue due to their congested fixtures, the record Kenyan champions are out to prove that they are the best team in the country.
“Considering our opponents’ fitness levels, fatigue could be creeping in and we are hoping to take advantage of that, it is the only way can catch up,” said suspended AFC captain Duncan Otieno.
But his Gor Mahia counterpart Harun Shakava has different views.
“I’m looking for a fourth successive win against the opponents as Gor Mahia FC captain. The victory has the potential to send us 12 points clear.”