James Waindi @PeopleSports11
The controversy surrounding Saturday’s “Mashemeji Derby” between arch rivals AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia intensified yesterday after Football Kenya Federation (FKF) boss Nick Mwendwa once again insisted the match would only be played over his dead body.
Mwendwa had on Monday said the planned venue for the derby, Bukhungu Stadium, was a high-risk venue that could not host the duel, given the history of the two set of fans when their sides meet.
He said the only venue capable of hosting the derby was Kasarani Stadium, which is at the moment closed for minor renovations.
Mwendwa also noted that it is not possible to go ahead with the derby yet 10 players called up for Harambee Stars international friendlies were drawn from Gor and Leopards.
“I can assure you that there will be no derby on Saturday, unless Kenya Premier League officials import referees from Congo who are not affiliated to FKF,” said Mwendwa.
He added: “The players are currently in camp and there is no way they can play for the national team on Friday in Machakos then travel at night to Kakamega for the derby the following day.”
Mwendwa said Swaziland are expected in the country this evening for their match on Friday which will be the first test for newly-appointed Stars coach Sebastian Migne as he prepares the team for a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Ghana’s Black Stars in September.
However, KPL Chief Executive Officer Jack Oguda insisted the match was on and confirmed that preparations to host one of the best derbies in recent years were complete. “We will not get a referee from Congo.
We have a written agreement with FKF that they will be giving us qualified match officials for our matches and they have an obligation to provide them on Saturday,” said Oguda.
Some of the players who are in camp and also expected to play in the derby include Boniface Oluoch, Harun Shakava, Joash Onyango, Philemon Otieno, Humphrey Mieno, Francis Kahata, George Odhiambo all from Gor Mahia while Leopards’ contingent include Duncan Otieno, Michael Kibwage and Whyvonne Isuza.
After playing Swaziland on Friday, Stars are also expected to face Equatorial Guinea on Monday.