AFC Leopards are hoping that the return of Whyvonne Isuza, David ‘Cheche’ Ochieng and Soter Kayumba will be crucial in delaying their bitter rivals Gor Mahia’s coronation when they face off in the 86th edition of Mashemeji derby at Moi Stadium, Kasarani tomorrow.
The trio missed Ingwe’s 1-0 loss to KCB in a midweek clash on precautionary grounds since they were a yellow card away from suspension.
Coach Andre Cassa Mbungo, who will be overseeing his second derby since taking over the reign at the den, is glad that the three have had enough rest and will be heavily relied upon in the match. The Rwandese coach will further be boosted by the availability of Paul Were and Abdalla Salim, who missed the last two matches.
“It’s a plus for us to have the three experienced players available for selection. I will approach the match just like any other league encounter but the objective remains to grab the three points,” said Mbungo.
“History in the recent past favours Gor Mahia but it will count for nothing in the match as the winner will be decided on performance on the pitch. I know I lost in the first leg but I am not going for revenge as it doesn’t exist in the world of football. We know they are a few points from being crowned and only God knows whether we will delay it further.”
The two sides have met 85 times with each registering 27 wins and 31 matches ending evenly thus bragging rights will be at stake.
Gor won 2-0 in the first leg and having rested several players in their midweek loss to Nzoia Sugar, head coach Hasan Oktay will hope to unleash his heavy artillery and reduce the gap between them and the league title to two points. Gor have 66 points eight ahead of second-placed Bandari and a win tomorrow will leave them needing two points from three matches.
Meanwhile, hawking and alcoholic drinks have been banned at the match venue.
Ugly scenes have been reported in the past during the derby with unruliness being blamed on the visibly intoxicated fans and as a way of curbing the menace, hawkers, licensed or not will not be allowed to sell alcoholic drinks in the stands.
The Kenya Premier League Safety and Security Committee have revealed that 100 officers drawn from both regular and Administration Police, 80 stewards from hosts Leopards and 50 from Gor Mahia will be on duty during the encounter. Two platoons of General Service Unit will compliment the other officers while private security will be provided at the VIP and VVIP areas. Fans will be thoroughly frisked at the gates as part of the security deliberations agreed in the meeting.
“The sale of alcoholic beverages and hawking in the stands has been outlawed during the derby. Even the licensed hawkers will not be allowed to do business in the stadium for security purposes. This time round we are not leaving anything to chance as fans will be frisked at the gates, stands while pitch area and all sections of the venue will be secured. We urge fans to come in large numbers and at the same time observe decorum,” said GMT Ottieno, who chaired yesterday’s meeting.
The match will kickoff at 4:15 pm due to what the committee termed as television arrangements and minute of silence in honour of the late Omar Matendechere, father to former Kenyan international Ramadhan Balala will be observed.
Fans will access the venue through gate two and 12 while VIP ticket holders will use gate four. The tickets which retail at sh 500 and 200 for VIP and regular sections respectively will be sold on match day beginning 7 am at Kenya Cinema, opposite Safari Park and at the gates.