Come all and witness Kenya’s biggest football match this Sunday

The wait is finally over! At the capacity 35, 000 Nyayo national Stadium, the two Kenyan Premier League giants - Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards ‘Ingwe’- will do battle, in what promises to be another fiercely contested encounter as the city comes to a complete standstill for the country’s most anticipated derby.

Tale of the game: The recent history of meetings between these two sides tell it all.

Gor Mahia, last year’s league runners-up, have made a flying start to the season, scoring 13 goals in their 15 league matches and will go into the match as favourites. Together with table-topping Tusker and Western Stima, K’Ogalo have the best defence in the country so far, having conceded only nine goals into the second leg of the season.

The side has also maintained a clean sheet of 540 minutes so far.

On their part, Leopards are hoping to exorcise the ghosts that have been undermining them over the recent past. Bar that 2-1 win over Thika United, Leopards had gone six matches without a win, losing five times, four on the trot.

Touchline duel: Zedekiah “Zico” Otieno v Ian Koops: With a rich club history at their respective teams, both Otieno and Koops know only too well that they will be judged, over a very long time, by today’s results and must employ every tactic if only for the three vital points
They have not had so much time of knowing each other, as Koops joined the Leopards two weeks ago, but Ingwe’s re-emergence could see hostilities initiated.

Zico has the upper hand having guided United to a convincing Champions League semi-final victory last season, so Koops will be out for revenge.

Tactical battle: Gor defeated AFC Leopards 1-0 during their last meeting at the same venue last October with their rapier counter-attacks, but the key component in that tactic - George “Blackberry” Odhiambo - has moved on.

K’Ogalo no longer possess such electric pace and Leopards should be more capable of containing the 1987 Mandela Cup champions.

The home side’s challenge will be to nullify the threat posed by Leopards’ forward Mike Barasa. The Harambee Stars striker has been on fire, scoring stunning winners including that dazzling goal against Thika United.

Key clashes: Solomon Nasio v Mike Barasa: Gor defender Nasio has returned from injury, but the former Dandora Youth player is yet to show that he has overcome his confidence-draining encounter with Congo United’s Rama Salim in May. Recent injuries have also left a question mark.

The mercurial Barasa will roam around Gor’s vast spaces and leave Nasio looking for a man to mark, but when he attacks the penalty area, the defender must deal with the danger.

Collins “Gattuso” Okoth v Charles Okwemba: Okoth has always thrived against Leopards and Zico often recalls his successful battles against bigger boys. Okwemba will pose a different test, but “Gattuso” has emerged as Gor’s key midfielder.
His energy, ability to break up opposition attacks and sensible use of possession mark him out as one of the first names on the Gor team-sheet.
Okwemba has grown in stature in recent months, however, and he will relish his battle against the stout Gor midfielder.

Demonde Selenga v Francis Chinjili: Chinjili has yet to win over the Leopards supporters after arriving at the lair, but Selenga is already a cult figure at Gor just three games into his K’Ogalo career.

The Congolese’s attacking instincts offer Gor an option and he will pose a stern test for his markers. The former Western Stima striker has no better opportunity to silence his critics, however.

What they are saying: Zedekiah “Zico” Otieno: The character of the teams has changed since over the years and we expect a good match. It is important for us to win tomorrow (today) and maintain the pressure.

Ian Koops: I am happy to go there because it is the first big, big test. You want always to have a high level of confidence when you go to against Gor Mahia.


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