Saturday, October 1, 2011

Pre Match: Gor Mahia (H)

It is the big clash this weekend. AFC Leopards v Gor Mahia.

There is coverage all over though there is a feeling that sections of the media that are pro-Gor have deliberately tried to downplay the derby in solidarity with Gor coach Zico Otieno who has been criticising football authorities for letting the game go ahead instead of postponing it to allow Harambee Stars, the national football team, continue with its local players camp.

James Waindi of the Standard reports

There are few sporting contests in the country that carry quite the same passion as a Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards clash.

Their meetings often captivate millions of fans, not only locally but also across the footballing world, especially Kenyans living in the Diaspora.

As the big day approaches, countless Kenyans, including many who would ordinarily be immune from the charms of the beautiful game, get swept along by the fervour of the big event and don the colours of their favourite teams.

Tomorrow, about 27, 000 lucky fans will be packed at the Nyayo National Stadium to witness what is expected to be a spectacle that contains many of the finest players in the KPL. Collectively, the clubs can boast no fewer than seven international players and the national team coach in Gor’s Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno and players Kevin Ochieng’, Collins Okoth, Jerrim Onyango and Eric Masika while AFC have Patrick Matasia, Collins Kisuya and Mike Barasa.

That said, this latest meeting of the age-old rivals will certainly have different expectations from fans of the different divides.

Leopards are enjoying a good run of form, having gone for six matches unbeaten, while their opponents have their own problems as their title campaign has crumbled following their three-match winless streak, but the disparity may not count in tomorrow’s match going with the history of the derby.

Leopards skipper Charles Okwemba who has played in eight derbies, the first one being in 2001, has declared that his side are not the favourites despite the fact that they are enjoying a better run in the league than their opponents.
"We are not favourites at all and we are not superior than Gor. From my experience in the derbies, it can always go either way and a team may be doing badly and rise to the occasion on the derby day.

"The only advantage we could be having over our opponents is the state of mind, because psychologically I think Gor are not in the right state due to their recent results and off the field events, but Gor is always Gor when they meet Leopards," said Okwemba.

Okwemba said they were full house and noted that they were a better side than the side that lost 3-1 to Gor on July 24.

"We made silly mistakes in our last meeting where we lost 3-1 and we can’t afford the same mistakes this time. We have really improved since we lost the match to Gor and our fans should expect a good match," Okwamba added.

Gor’s assistant coach Zablon ‘Pro’ Otieno is optimistic they can bounce back with a win over their arch-rivals and has insisted that they are focused after putting their house in order.

The Standard also has another report from Gilbert Wandera where he states that Gor have not won a match since they last beat AFC. Clearly the match against Western Stima has escaped the writer.

The Nation has a report from Sammy Kitula who also states that Gor havent won since they beat AFC.

Collins Okinyo of Supersport has the story from Ingwelets.

AFC Leopards’ lady supporting group; the Ingweelets are yearning for revenge after their team succumbed to a 3-1 win in the first leg and are optimistic that their team will emerge victorious on Sunday.
 "We are confident of a win this time round and I can confirm to you that Leopards with their current great form will claw K’Ogalo come rain or shine in the derby."

"As Ingweelets we are happy with the performances of our beloved team recently as they have been on top of things and Sunday will be a day for payback and sweet revenge," Ingweelets official Linda Ambiyo told

Ingweelets will have their own battle in the terraces as they battle it out with their lady counterparts K’Orgilo divas.

Carol Radull in the Star predicts a 2-1 win for Leopards.

The long awaited return leg of the biggest derby in Kenya is on tomorrow and I can’t wait. I will attempt to analyse it but as I wrote on my blog on; analysing and predicting a derby is almost a waste of time. Things happen in derbies that don’t happen any other time simply because of a little matter called: “the bragging rights!” 

Gor Mahia currently hold the bragging rights having convincingly beaten AFC 3 – 1 in the first leg in July. In that match even Ingwe fans walked away knowing they had been truly and fairly beaten. Ingwe had had a troubled season up until then going through numerous coaches from Robert Bollen to Robert Matano then Nick Yakhama and eventually settled on Jan Koops. Koops had just taken over when that match took place and there was no way he could be blamed for the loss. 

Infact AFC hasn’t lost a match since then and with their 3- 0 victory over Sony in Awendo last weekend, their confidence is at an all time high. And Koops is doing a lot right. After their terrible start to the season they find themselves seventh in the standings now just four points behind Gor who are sixth. Gor on the other hand come into this game following their 2 – 1 loss to Congo and then their 2-2 draw with KCB after going 2-0 ahead in this game early on. 

Gor’s form and morale is at an all-time low and with fans demanding the coach’s resignation, the team will not be settled going into this. Zico has spent most of the past week coaching the Harambee Stars in Mumias and will have only trained his squad for two days prior to the match. I guess since he knows he isn’t wanted, Zico will watch this match from the terraces and not from the bench. My prediction: Ingwe 2 – 1 K’ogalo

KPL website has the story:

AFC Leopards versus Gor Mahia; who will win the Kenyan Premier League match on Sunday that goes by the tag of the nation’s biggest “Derby’?

This is the era of professionalism in Kenyan Premiership football. You would put your money on the side that seems to have more players of genuine pro quality. So, who have more thoroughbred professionals? Quality and the level of skill aside, there are some outright amateurs; for example Gor Mahia forward, Duncan Makori, who plays football when he can get time off from duties as a primary school teacher in a Nairobi suburb.

But most in the two squads are full-time football professionals. Mike Baraza of AFC Leopards is foremost. A veteran who has played round the world, at 32, is an icon in domestic football; a player whose sole focus is to deliver goals as per the conditions of hiring as an all-and-out striker.

Baraza was at KPL champion side, Ulinzi Stars for the first part of the season, where he scored eight times for the soldiers. In mid-season he joined Leopards where was an instant leader by example. In their last meeting with Gor Mahia on July 24, Baraza was the scorer in Leopards’ 1-3 loss.

He is the true professional who knows nothing else will be expected of him other than ample revenge over Go Mahia on Sunday. On top of that, Baraza will be aware that the form book says that Leopards are runaway favorites to even the matters.

In the last six matches, unbeaten Leopards have acquired 14 points [from possible 18] while a jaded Gor Mahia have earned only seven, suffering, en route, some defeats that have caused consternation among K’Ogalo followers.

Baraza’s state of body and mind, however, will be a matter of for confirmation on Sunday. In a recent freak traffic accident where he has a passenger in public transport, though not visibly injured, his body was left shaken. He did not play in last week’s Leopards’ 3-0 defeat of Sony Sugar at Awendo.

But club organising secretary, Timothy Lirumbi said on Saturday they were looking forward to a fruitful contribution from Baraza.

“He is in the team, fully recovered, I can confirm that and we hope he will be able to contribute his usual a hundred per cent,” Lirumbi said.

Against Sony, another Leopards veteran pro, Oscar Kadenge, often living under the shadow of players such as Baraza, had a perfect time to express himself, scoring a brace in the emphatic win over Sony. He could be another one of those providing Leopards with a lot of options.

The Leopards strike force includes other men whose job is to play football and produce results, notably ex-Rangers striker Charles Okwemba. He will lead out the team as captain, knowing full well that expectation are that Leopards should win a contest they hold the advantage in so many ways.

It will, therefore, in turn take real professionalism for Gor Mahia to defy the odds. Count on men who have been under similar tight circumstances, such as Gor Mahia’s much-travelled Moses Odhiambo, to surprise Leopards.

Since arriving at Gor Mahia, the former APR [Rwanda] and Simba [Tanzania] man, appears not to have been a favourite of Gor coach Zedekiah “Zico” Otieno. Even though the Odhiambo’s class has always stood out when he has played, regular fielding was unguaranteed. In a crunch match, Odhiambo would be one of those unlikely to buckle under Leopards’ high rating of the moment.

But Odhiambo would require the backing of many more men of his calibre. Seriously speaking, though, they are not in abundance. You would have to think about Collins “Gatusso” Okoth, Kevin Omondi and ‘keeper Frederick Onyango, by no means veterans, to be the only ones coming close.

The fact that Gor’s reliance has been on dedicated rather than experienced players, notably Edwin Lavatsa, Tony Onyango, Anthony Akumu, Musa Mohamed, Eric Masika, Collins Omondi and Wycliffe Ochomo, puts them on the back foot in a fight where old war horses are required.

There will also be too many detracting issues hanging around Gor Mahia. Recently prime candidates for a shot at the 2011 KPL title, a string of poor results triggered disharmony in the club management and general support. Coach “Zico” has gone through a torrid time inflicted on him by disgruntled elements that saw the coach’s performance as the killer of their title dreams.

Absent the whole week from club duty, as he was attending to the Harambee Stars training at Mumias, “Zico” has said he probably will watch the match from the stands. The fixture has the making of an enchanting encounter. Gor Mahia would be happy to force a draw but that would be pouring cold water on a demanding Leopards’ following who believe they have Gor Mahia on the ropes and victory should be a must.

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