The most followed fixture of the Kenya Premier League, the Mashemeji Derby, looms large and is slated for Sunday at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.
The Mashemeji Derby features the biggest and oldest rivalry in Kenyan football. This time much is at stake and both teams will be looking for victory for various reasons. On one hand, K’Ogalo will be looking to clinch their 18th title with a win while AFC will want to do everything in their power to deny their perennial rivals the honours of lifting the cup at their expense.
In the recent past, Gor Mahia has dominated the derby with the most wins. However, Ingwe is on good form going into the derby as they are just finding their footing under coach Casa Mbung’o. The Rwandan tactician’s tenure has seen players like Paul Were and Whyvonne Isuza impress. The derby, this time around, is difficult to predict.
The heat that precedes the derby this time hints at a memorable Mashemeji Derby. Business Today looks back to the most memorable Mashemeji derbies as another derby gets a chance to be included in the list.
Gor 1-0 AFC (Oct. 20, 1979)
It was the Kenyatta Day Cup Final and the two most revered sides in the Kenyan league had gone through all of their opponents to lock horns for the trophy. In the history of the Mashemeji derby, reports of both teams using witchcraft to gain advantage have always been there.
Gor Mahia won this particular contest 1-0 when Sammy Onyango ‘Jogoo’ scored the only goal in the 32nd minute with a volley that left goalkeeper Mahmoud Abbas rooted on the ground. Abbas later claimed that he saw two serpent-like balls coming at him in goal and left him undecided on which way to go to stop them. Did he really?
AFC 1-0 Gor (Second leg of KPL, 2009)
Ingwe had just come back to topflight football after one year in the lower league and were still struggling to find their footing. Leopards were actually at the bottom of the log with relegation worries hanging around their necks. Gor was not doing better either and were placed 11th in the standings going into this fixture.
Leopards’ victory came in the 60th minute when Obadiah Ndege scored the lone goal that helped Ingwe survive relegation. This victory is believed to have fueled AFC to stay in the league as they have not been relegated since then. Immediately after surviving, former coach Nick Yakhama was replaced by Dutchman Jan Koops, who went on to establish the club as one of the top contenders.
The violence-interrupted 2015 derby
The August 23, 2015 derby had to be called off in the 64th minute after Igwe fans started throwing foreign objects into the pitch. The teams were playing to a barren draw until Ingwe defender Jackson Saleh handled the ball inside the box, gifting Gor Mahia a penalty that was never to be taken.
Police tried to calm the Ingwe fans but the white and blue-clad fanatics engaged them in running battles. Gor Mahia fans, on the other hand, waited with bated breath, hoping the game would resume. As the violence escalated, however, a section of them got involved by pelting stones towards their rival fans in the ‘Russia’ section.
It was a match that was characterised physical fights between Ingwe and K’Ogalo. The rivalry and bitterness between the two sides were most felt during this day.