War of words starts ahead of defining Mashemeji derby - Daily Nation
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War of words starts ahead of defining Mashemeji derby

Thursday August 23 2018

AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia fans dance outside Nation Centre, Nairobi ahead of the SportPesa Premier League match between AFC Leoaprds and Gor Mahia at Kasarani on July 22, 2018. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU |

AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia fans dance outside Nation Centre, Nairobi ahead of the SportPesa Premier League match between AFC Leoaprds and Gor Mahia at Kasarani on July 22, 2018. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU |  

By DAVID KWALIMWA
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The war drums have officially been sounded ahead of Saturday’s all stakes SportPesa Premier League clash pitting Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards.

For the record, a triumph for Dylan Kerr’s Gor Mahia against the old enemy will accumulate the defending champions’ points tally to 71 in 28 league assignments this season.

This haul is enough for K’Ogalo to be declared 2018 Premier League champions, because none of the other seventeen teams in this competition can amass a similar number of points even if they were to win their remaining seven games.

This is why, Gor Mahia’s forward Francis Mustafa is, perhaps, spoiling for a fight.

Speaking to Nation Sport Thursday, the Burundian new signing vowed his team will go all out to ‘finish the job; when they line up against Ingwe at a potentially packed Kasarani stadium.

The fixture will kick off at 4pm.

But AFC Leopards coach Rodolfo Zapata begs to differ.

While almost conceding his opponents will ultimately win the league title this season, the Argentine coach will rather that occasion doesn’t unfold in his presence.

“Obviously everybody wants to win. I also want to win regardless of whom we play against but there are different ways to do it,” said Zapata, who will be out to post his first ever win against Gor Mahia.

Perhaps with hindsight of his team frustrations of missing out on the league title for the past two decades, the former Gaborone United of Botswana coach also shared a message of hope to the club’s supporters.

“Gor has continuity and consistency in their process. We invest in young players and because of this I’m positive that Leopards will fight for the league and compete at international level in the near future.” Before adding: “Even without me.”

Mustafa, who's scored four times in nine appearances since joining Gor Mahia from Rwanda's Kiyovu Sports last month, was however, more brutal in his assessment.

“The team has put in a lot of work to get to this stage and we have the opportunity to finish the job. A win is possible and that’s what we are looking for,” said the 22-year old.

Mustafa, who scored eleven times in the Rwandan league this season before making the switch to the Kenyan Premier League, could start in attack for the defending champions considering fitness concerns to first choice strikers Jacques Tuyisenge and Ephrem Guikan.

With a looming must-win clash against Algeria’s USM Alger in the Caf Confederation Cup set for Algiers on Wednesday, Kerr also has a decision to make between the sticks, with keepers Boniface Oluoch and Shaban Odhoji struggling for form in recent times.

Third-choice custodian Fredrick Odhiambo put in an impressive shift, when called upon between the sticks against Sofapaka in a league match on Wednesday, even saving a Kepha Aswani penalty kick on 14 minutes, when the scores were still 0-0.

K’Ogalo went on to win 3-0. Will he be called upon for this one?

Meanwhile, AFC Leopards' Robinson Kamura, Salim ‘Shittu’ Abdalla, Moses Mburu and Marvin Nabwire are injured, and doubtful to feature in this match. The team's top scorer Ezekiel Odera is suspended.