No fixture in Kenya gets more attention in terms of social media talk and stadium attendance than the Gor Mahia vs AFC Leopards derby. Dubbed ‘Mashemeji derby’, the fixture comes with huge rivalry based on majorly tribal lines and previous success in the local league.
This, however, is subject to change as most upcoming teams are investing a lot in their football giving the two bulls competition. AFC lost their spark a while ago but Gor Mahia seem to be heading in the same direction despite recent success in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) and tournaments.
Evidently in the 3rd edition of the Sportpesa Super Cup tournaments, the teams we least expected to qualify for semis did so while Gor and AFC failed. AFC were bundled out by a star-studded side in Simba FC while Gor were eliminated by a least known Mbao FC.
AFC’s exit was somewhat inevitable as they were playing a team whose attack constitutes the likes of Former Gor attacker Meddie Kagere, Star forward Clatous Chama (Triple C) and John Bocco. Gor on the other hand could definitely do better as they lost to a fifth placed side in the Tanzanian Premier League, a league as competitive as the KPL.
Being held to a draw by Mbao FC is not at the level of K’Ogalo who have already won the cup on both occasions the tournament has been played.
This edition of the Sportpesa Cup will definitely have a new winner with Ingwe and K’Ogalo fans having to choose to either support Kariobangi Sharks or Bandari who have both made it to the finals.
The two upcoming teams continue to amaze fans in Kenya as they extend their run of good form in all competitions. Kariobangi Sharks have already won against Gor Mahia in the KPL while Bandari was the only team that won against Gor in last season’s league which Gor won.
The defending Champions are facing a hard time in the KPL as the league is dominated by these upcoming teams that have proven to be the future of Kenyan football. In the top flight league, Mathare United, Bandari United and Tusker are among the title contenders with neither Gor nor AFC trailing as the league enters the mid-way stage. Both Bandari, Mathare and Kariobangi Sharks are yet to lose a match while Gor and AFC have already lost two.
K’Ogalo and Ingwe gained popularity back in the 70s, 80s and 90s when the two dominated the Kenyan Premier League winning back to back trophies. During those days, tribalism was at its peak in local football with Ingwe mostly comprising of Luhyas and K’Ogalo Luos.
In the 60s and early 70s when the local league had debuted, Gor Mahia was then referred to as Luo United while AFC Leopards were Abaluhya FC. Luhyas and Luos back then were known to be extremely talented in sports hence their teams were flourishing and gaining support and popularity.
Today, most people from Nyanza region are Gor Mahia fans while most people from Western are supporting Leopards though the dynamics have changed in recent years as the player set-up has gone not only national but international.
But the rivalry lives on with every Mashemeji Derby delivering a spectacle as fans don costumes related to the two tribes. Whenever the fixture is looming large, the form of either teams do not matter as the outcome of the fixture is more important than even improving their rank on the league table.