Residents in Kenya’s second most populous county Kakamega will be served a delicious meal of high octane football as former champions AFC Leopards and Kakamega Homeboyz face off at the Mumias Sports Complex on Saturday.
Dubbed “Kakamega Derby”, this match will involve two teams who use the 5,000-seater Mumias stadium grounds as their home venue.
Despite the joint ownership of the grounds and having similar supporters, fierce rivalry is expected.
Ingwe will be looking to end a tough five weeks without victory while Homeboyz will be keen to demonstrate that the 4-1 win they achieved against the Big Cats in September last year was no fluke.
That afternoon in Mumias eight months ago, when Ingwe got drowned by goals from Andrew Kulecho, Sunday Mutuku, Andrew Murunga, and Eugene Ambulwa’s own goal, was the first time that Ingwe had lost to Homeboyz in the four league encounters they have had in history.
Then coach Ivan Minneart received his sacking letter just three weeks later, before Ezekiel Akwana was called upon to hold the fort.
Since then, both teams have made attempts to bolster their squads, with Homeboyz acquiring forwards Wycliffe Ochomo, Francis Ochollah, Lamine Diallo and Estone Esiye, and Ingwe signing up burly Ghanaian Gilbert Fiamenyo, Sammy Ndung’u and Whyvonne Isuza.
Only one point separate the two sides, and the 13-time champions are sure to fall off the league’s top 10 positions if they fall short of victory.
Their latest results, five games without victory, have been a source of frustration for coach Stewart Hall who is said to have threatened to leave in midseason should the club managers fail to sign up new players.
In several interviews with Nation Sport, Hall placed the blame squarely on his players’ shoulders, but his assistant Dennis Kitambi was more positive, saying they would build up on the 1-1 draw against Zoo Kericho last weekend. “It is not easy. Nobody is happy with this performance. We want to win very badly,” he said.
On the other hand, Homeboyz chairman Cleophas Shimanyula is brimming with confidence, and has prophesied a high scoring game.
“We shall beat them. That is all I can tell you. They started the season very well and I know that they have some very good players, but we crushed them last year and I believe that we can beat them again comprehensively. I think we shall even score five goals this time,” he said.
Ingwe defender Robinson Kamura and midfielder Duncan Otieno have earned call ups to the national team for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, and this should boost their confidence leading into the match.
On Sunday, table leaders Gor Mahia will face Thika United at Nyayo stadium, a match that the record 15-time champions should have no trouble winning. Thika are bottom of the table.
K. Homeboyz v Leopards (Mumias Sports Complex)
Mathare United v Tusker (Ruaraka Grounds)
Muhoroni Youth v Nzoia Sugar (Muhoroni Stadium)
Sofapaka v K. Sharks (Narok County Stadium)
Zoo Kericho v Bandari (Kericho Green Stadium)
Gor Mahia v Thika United (Nyayo Stadium, 4pm)
Nakumatt v Chemelil Sugar (Ruaraka Grounds)
Sony Sugar v Western Stima (Awendo Green Stadium)
Ulinzi Stars v Posta Rangers (Afraha Stadium)