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The Mashemeji Derby – A Meeting of Renewed Rivalry and Kenya’s Most Vital League Showdown

Fierce rivals AFC leopards and Gor Mahia to face off in the Mashemeji derby.

On Sunday 22nd July, Kenya’s oldest football rivalry commonly known as Mashemeji derby will take centre stage at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani starting 1500hours.

It will be 50 years since AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia first faced off in a match. The first meeting between these fierce rivals came in May 1968.

The Mashemeji derby attracts a full house in any stadium in the country as both teams boast fans all over the East African region and any match involving the two football giants seldom has empty seats.

With both teams currently on good form, Kasarani could provide the theatre to one of the most explosive Mashemeji derby in recent times.

Players from both sides have refused to grant interviews, stressing that they have been given strict instructions not to speak to the media unless the press got permission from the teams’ respective offices. This is clearly a reflection of the tensions running through both camps ahead of the clash.

So far, both sides have met 87 times in all competitions and AFC Leopards have the upper hand with 28 wins compared to Gor Mahia’s 26 with all other encounters ending in a draw, which, to great lengths, shows the strong animosity between the pair.

In the last 22 meetings, Gor Mahia have won 16 times, four of those being draws while Leopards have just four wins.

Minus the form book, with the usual bragging rights and a chance to either climb up the table at stake for Leopards, the clash has all the ingredients of an epic showdown.

K’Ogalo, as Gor Mahia is commonly known, are sitting at the summit of the standings and a win will have them sprinting further away from their arch rivals. On the other hand, a victory for AFC Leopards will see them cut Gor Mahia’s lead to six points which could then mean Sofapaka getting dislodged from the second position.

AFC Leopards this season have been showing inconsistency in their performances having played 22 games so far. They boast of nine wins having lost four matches coupled with nine draws.

Gor Mahia are comfortable on the table top on 45 points in 19 matches. They have not lost any league game coming to the derby and will be seeking to extend a fine record as most pundits predict that they will not let maximum points slip away from them.

The Green Army has a total of 46 goals in the league, conceding 15 unlike rivals AFC Leopards who have let in 27 goals.

Ingwe have not finished above their neighbours in the league since 2009, and this trend looks set to continue with Rodolfo Zapata’s charges blowing hot and cold.

They are likely to be without dribbling wizard Baker Lukooya ruled unfit after sustaining an injury during a training session at the Gikambura Stadium in Kiambu where Ingwe trains.

All eyes will be on Ezekiel Odera, who has been on good form having made a comeback as well as Victor Majid and Eugene Mukangula.

Champions Gor Mahia will be without key man Francis Kahata who is linked with a move to Simba SC of Tanzania including attacking minded midfield player Noah Wafula as well as Ivorian Ephrem Guikan who’re yet to recover.

So whether Gor Mahia are riding the crest of the wave and AFC Leopards are almost rock bottom, fireworks are always expected. And this derby – Kenya’s most important fixture – should be no different.

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