Fans of Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards are in for a Labour Day treat when the two teams clash in a Mashemeji Derby at Afraha Stadium in Nakuru from 2pm today.
This match will mark betting company SportPesa’s grand return to Kenyan football after they signed new partnership with the two giants as well as the Kenyan Premier League (KPL).
The winner of the match will get the rights to face former English Premier League (EPL) side Hull City currently playing in the English Championship, in an exhibition match at a yet unconfirmed venue in Kenya on May 13.
The last time the two perennial arch-rivals clashed was on August 23, 2017 in a KPL match which ended 1-1. However, it will be Leopards who will be under pressure to win considering that Gor enjoy better head-to-head stats and will be desirous to extend the good run to build confidence ahead of their participation in the CAF Cup group phase.
Last weekend, Leopards who are under new Argentine coach Rodolfo Zapata came from behind to hold Vihiga United to a 2-2 draw with Gor settling for similar results against Mathare United and it will be interesting to see which of these teams will break the duck and amass maximum points.
Granted, this will be Zapata’s first assignment at the den after the departure of erstwhile trainer Dennis Kitambi and he will be out to prove to the team’s fans that he is the right man to steer the team to the title which they won in 1998.
Speaking to a section of the media last week, the tactician said he believed that Leopards have the right quality to vie for this season’s league title despite being seven points behind leaders Gor Mahia with two more matches played.
“The league is still open and step by step, we need to continue working hard because I believe we are in the right way. We need to correct some details, improve in a lot of aspects going forward”, Zapata who a former coach at Botswana’s Gaborone United added.
However, Zapata has his work cut out as he is meeting a Gor side that has lately been enjoying a purple patch coupled with consistency.
And while Zapata is likely to utilise the likes of Brian Marita, Robinsonn Kamura Ezekiel Odera and Whyvonne Isuza, his Gor counterpart Dylan Kerr is expected to keep faith on such players like Meddie Kagere, Jacques Tuyisenge, Samuel Onyango and Francis Kahata.