Ruto, Raila invited to Mashemeji Derby
President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga are among the dignitaries who have been invited to grace Sunday’s Mashemeji Derby pitting Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards at Nyayo National Stadium.
According to Gor Mahia chairman Ambrose Rachier, they have invited the two leaders to grace the 96th Mashemeji Derby between the two clubs which boast the biggest following in the country.
“We have invited the President for the game and his attendance will be subject to his itinerary. Mr Odinga is our club patron and he has steered us well thus we have also invited him for this big game. We will appreciate it if they can find time and join enthusiastic football fans for the big game,” Rachier said.
Rachier was speaking at Nyayo National Stadium during a joint press briefing by the officials of the two clubs on the preparations for the derby which is expected to be attended by thousands of fans.
President Ruto and Mr Odinga do not see eye-to-eye politically and if both grace the occasion then it will be the first time the two will be sharing a podium since the hotly contested general elections of last year.
Rachier however confirmed that Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba, his ICT counterpart Eliud Owalo and SportPesa Managing Director Ronald Karauri, who is also Kasarani MP, will be in attendance.
During the event, Leopards CEO Victor Bwibo rallied fans not to boycott the game even if they feel aggrieved by some of the decisions taken by the Football Kenya Federation against the team in the recent past.
“We know our fans have felt aggrieved by some of the decisions taken by FKF which they feel has been victimising the team. However, I appeal to them not to let this jeopardise the attendance of the derby and instead come out in large numbers,” said Bwibo.
“We shall have a way of sorting out our issues with the federation and it is evident we have started coming back to the pitch in some of the few matches since the ban was lifted. For the sake of the derby and respect between us and Gor Mahia, I humbly request our fans to attend the game on Sunday,” he added.
On Wednesday, Leopards Branches Chairman Frankline Imbenzi had called on Leopards fans to boycott the game after FKF docked them points in their aborted game against Kakamega Homeboyz on April 16.
FKF had also directed that four Leopards matches be played behind closed doors and docked them six points as well as a fine of Sh500,000 to cater for treatment of match referees involved in the fiasco. However, the decision was reversed on May 4 by the FKF Competition Committee on appeal by club chairman Dan Shikanda.
Imbenzi had insisted that until the federation shows respect to the club, their fans should not attend the derby and instead follow it from home but remit their gate charge through the team paybill account.