Gor Mahia are favourites to beat AFC Leopards in Sunday’s “Mashemeji” derby at Kasarani Stadium.
These are sentiments of former Kenyan international George Sunguti who had a rare opportunity of playing for both clubs.
Sunguti has tipped Gor to prevail over Leopards based on current form added to their consistency in the SportPesa Premier League as well as the strength of participation in the continental assignments.
“Compared to Leopards, Gor are on top of their game and are thus favourites but remember, Leopards are also known to be a hard nut to crack for their opponents when things seem not to going the right way,” said Sunguti.
However, Sunguti has cautioned K’Ogalo against expecting an easy run, saying it has always been difficult for Gor to beat Leopards during the latter’s low moments.
The rivalry between Gor and Leopards has been there for close to 50 years and is considered an integral part of Kenyan football.
It can only be compared to that of Dynamos and Highlanders in the Zimbabwean league or that between Ghanaian giants Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak, meaning Sunday’s tie will push adrenaline levels a notch higher.
Unlike past meetings between the two when there were worst cases of hooliganism, largely due to ethnic connotations, fans have nowadays embraced sportsmanship whether their team wins or loses, hence the “Mashemeji derby” tag.
It was also during that period when, considering that Gor and Leopards draw most of their supporters from Nyanza and Western Kenya, it was considered a taboo of sorts for a Luo player to ditch K’Ogalo and his Luhya counterpart to leave Leopards.
But such myths have since been quashed with a cross over of players to these teams nothing new which has largely contributed to harmony amongst fans during matches.
Former Gor striker, the late John “Okello” Zangi ditched the green army to join Leopards while Sunguti left the Ingwe den to join K’Ogalo.
Dan Shikanda also left Leopards to join Gor, a team which Musa Otieno briefly played for before joining Leopards.
“It was tricky facing your colleagues but the cardinal rule then was, put friendship aside and help your team get the desired results. When I joined Gor from Leopards, I resolved to get ruthless on Ingwe since I was no longer in their ranks. I also did the same to Gor when I was at Leopards,” said Sunguti.
Sunguti, then featuring for Leopards, was employed by Kenya Railways and would always meet a Gor team laden with players like Peter Dawo, Tobias Ocholla and Anthony Ndolo who worked for the same organisation.