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Stuttering Gor face Leopards in Mashemeji derby

By ISAAC SWILA October 22nd, 2016 2 min read

At exactly 3pm, the 30,000 seater Nyayo National Stadium will burst to life as age-long rivals Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards clash in what is expected to be a tempestuous Mashemeji Derby.

As has been the tradition with the derby, the poor form of both clubs heading to this match notwithstanding, the stakes are quite high.

Three points and the bragging rights that come with it are on offer and each side will throw every weapon in their armory to get the win.

Though the drama and adrenaline will be high on the terraces and the pitch, it is the two coaches; the 43-year-old Jose Marcelo ‘Ze Maria’ for Gor Mahia and 40-year-old AFC Leopards’ stand-in coach Ezekiel Akwana, who will be under the microscope.

The match will be special for both coaches. Akwana will be overseeing his first Mashemeji Derby as a coach just like Ze Maria who took charge at K’Ogalo in late March after Ingwe had pulled a 1-0 win over the old enemy in the first leg clash on March 7 at the Kasarani Stadium.

Ze Maria, who has since come under intense scrutiny in the wake of unsatisfactory results, chose not to comment on the game on Saturday, but in a post-match interview with Nation on Wednesday after watching his side draw 2-2 with Western Stima, he said:

“Our next match (the derby) is very important to us. We want to win and get three points. That is the aim. We prepare for victory and nothing else .We still have title hopes.”


Ze Maria may be cautious but his assistant Tom Ogweno underlined the desire at Gor’s camp.

“It’s true that we have not had a good run. It’s a derby and we are prepared. It’s a real tough match but we hope that with the proper preparations we have had and God willing, we should win,” Ogweno said adding “This is soccer, you may expect it this way and results may not go your way. We are calling on our fans to come and cheer the boys because it requires energy from all of us but they should portray the sportsmanship.”

Akwana, whose flowing dreadlocks has become his trademark, however stuck to his combative, abrasive style warning Gor that they should prepare for defeat.

“I’m comfortable. I’ve handled some big games in the past and this will be no exception. I’m going to beat Gor Mahia to hand Tusker the title,” the 40-year old Akwana, who featured for Ingwe in his heyday, declared.

Troublesome playmaker Allan Kateregga (red-card) and John ‘Softie’ Ndirangu (illness) are unavailable.

Gor’s stable is also affected with the burly Ernest Wendo (ankle problem) Crispin Odula, Ronald Omino and Bernard Odhiambo (all knee problems) set to play no part in the game.

Gor Mahia are second on the log with 45 points from 12 wins, 12 draws and two loses while Ingwe are 12th with  30 points from eight wins, nine draws and nine losses but the gulf in the log aside, its game on!