Last updated 8 months ago | By Rodgers Eshitemi
Polack eager to make a winning debut in derby as Mbungo aims to avenge last season’s loss.
Will in-form AFC Leopards capitalise on rivals’ and record Kenyan champions Gor Mahia’s recent misfortunes and end their dominance in the Mashemeji derby at Kasarani Stadium today?
Could this be a fixture for Ingwe to show their title pedigree as they continue the quest to reclaim the trophy they last won in 1998?
Though Gor sit second on the table, level on 15 points with Leopards, their current predicament is not something their fans would like K’Ogalo to have ahead of the 87th edition of the derby.
Save for the bragging rights, there is a lot at stake as both teams will aiming to leapfrog Tusker (17 points) at the summit.
The brewers failed to open a four point gap at the top after being held to a 1-1 draw by ten-man KCB in Nakuru yesterday.But going by recent head-to-head records and both team’s current form, it is Leopards who desperately need a victory to end their winless run in the derby.
Gor have dominated the meetings, with their last defeat to Leopards coming way back in June 2016 (1-0).
Coincidentally, Kenyan international Clifton Miheso, who was part of the AFC squad that beat Gor three years ago, is likely to join the growing list of players to have featured for both clubs in the derby when he dons the green jersey today.
However, the two perennial rivals are coming off quite contrasting results. Fresh from Caf Confederation Cup elimination in Democratic Republic of Congo last weekend, Gor suffered their first defeat in the league this season when they fell 1-0 to Mathare United in Machakos, just a few days after Leopards had drawn against Ulinzi Stars at the same venue.
While the midweek loss, which was attributed to Gor players’ failure to train, ended their five games unbeaten run, Leopards have not lost since the 1-0 season opener defeat to Kakamega Homeboyz.
And the pair’s well-documented financial problems will not stop both coaches, Steven Polack (Gor Mahia), and Casa Mbungo (AFC Leopards), from achieving their personal targets.
While Polack will be aiming to make a winning debut in the derby, his Rwandese counterpart will be out to avenge last season’s 3-1 loss to Gor.
“Yeah, it’s my first derby, but there are no jitters. I’m not worried about the derby. I will start thinking about the derby after analysing the Mathare United game,” said Polack.
“It’s my hope that we will not make the same mistakes we did before the mid-week game. But I will try to talk to the players and work on their mental strength ahead of the derby.”
Even as Mbungo believes this could be Leopards’ year of glory he was evasive in the derby-favourite talk.
“Gor Mahia have dominated the derby for years, I think that’s their time. Maybe for now this is our time and year of glory. We are not only focusing on the derby, but winning other matches and lift the title,” said Mbungo.