Maandamano: Azam FC cancel Nairobi friendly with Gor Mahia
Azam FC have canceled its trip to Kenya for security reasons, amid political unrest in the country.
The Tanzanian club was primed to play Gor Mahia in a friendly clash at the Nyayo Stadium on March 25, 2023.
“Gor Mahia had invited us for the friendly match,” the ice cream makers explained in a statement.
“But we have been forced to cancel the trip for security reasons. Instead, we will play Zanzibar’s JKU at the Azam Sports Complex tomorrow (March 22, 2023) at the Azam Sports Complex.”
Gor Mahia Chief Executive Raymond Oruo also released a statement confirming the game had been called off due to the ‘uncertain political situation.’
The cancellation will come as a blow to coach Jonathan McKinstry’s Gor Mahia who have shown a rich vein of form this season and are on course to reclaim the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Premier League title.
McKinstry was keen to use the friendly to not only keep his charges busy during the international break but also fine-tune the team ahead of a grueling second leg of the league season.
Gor Mahia, powered in the attack by youngster Benson Omalla, are top of the 18-team league table standings with 42 points from 20 games, five more than Bankers KCB, their nearest challenger.
Omalla has scored 19 times in as many league matches and would have fancied testing his abilities against Azam, which is statistically one of the best teams in East Africa.
Dar-es-salaam-based Azam, coached by Iddi Abubacker, have some of the most talented players in their set up including Kenyan midfielder Kenneth Muguna, deadly Zimbabwe striker Prince Dube, his strike partner in the frame of Congolese forward Idriss Ilunga Mbombo and Comoros keeper Ali Ahamada.
Azam are currently placed fourth on the Tanzania league standings behind Yanga SC, Simba and Singida Big Stars.
The Chamdzi-based side has won ten league titles, and last played, and beat, Gor 2-0 in the final of the 2015 Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup in Dar-es-Salaam.
Azam’s move to cancel the Kenyan trip comes hours after Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga announced anti-government protests will now take place twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays as a response to what he cited as public demand.
The fresh call came after a day-long of countrywide protest left two people dead and several injured.
Mr Odinga says the protests are meant to put pressure on President William Ruto’s government to lower the cost of living and advocate for electoral reforms.