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Gor, Leopards cross swords in Mashemeji derby

There’s only one thing to talk about in Kenyan football this weekend: the Nairobi derby between bitter rivals Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards.

It has never been business as usual when Leopards and Gor Mahia cross paths. The two rivals clash for the third time this year with Gor Mahia, currently top of the SportPesa Premier League table, massive favourites to win on paper.

Gor have humiliated Leopards 3-0 in their last two meetings this year: in the league on May 7 and in the final of the SportPesa Super Cup on June 11 in Dar es Salaam.

But minus the form book, with the usual bragging rights and a chance to either climb up the table at stake for Leopards, the clash has all the ingredients for an epic clash.

Gor are sitting pretty at the summit of the standings with 43 points, six ahead of second placed Sofapaka while Leopards are 13th with 23 points.

Ingwe have not finished above their neighbours in the league since 2009, and this trend looks set to continue with Robert Matano’s charges blowing hot and cold.

Gor, who have won five on the trot to take control of the league, are cruising with pundits crediting new coach Dylan Kerr’s decision to switch from three to four at the back after taking over from Brazilian Jose Ferreira two months ago.

Both sides warmed up for this clash with gritty 1-0 wins in their midweek matches, with Gor stopping Posta Rangers on Wednesday at Kasarani while Leopards overcame Tusker on Thursday at Nyayo.

Kerr, who now has a 100 percent record since taking charge with five successive wins, knows what to expect tomorrow having led Tanzania giants Simba against rivals Yanga in the Dar es Salaam derby.

“It is not my first time to handle a derby in Africa. I know what Sunday’s game is about. It is special especially to the fans so we shall try to make it an enjoyable afternoon for them,” said Kerr.

“Ingwe have a good squad comprising quite a youthful squad so they have a lot of energy and some considerable pace.”

Bullish as usual, Matano told Nation Sport that Thursday’s 1-0 win over Tusker was of great benefit to his players ahead of Sunday’s game.

“Sometimes it is important to look beyond results. You can win a game after playing poorly, and you can play very good football and still lose. I think we played extremely well against Tusker yet they are a very strong opponent. That shows that the players are in good shape for the derby,” he said.

Tickets for the match will be sold at Sh1000 and 200 for VIP and regular stands respectively, and gates will be open from 11am.

FIXTURES

Saturday

Muhoroni Youth v Chemelil Sugar (Muhoroni, 3pm)

Nakumatt v Nzoia Sugar (Ruaraka, 3pm)

Sofapaka v Posta Rangers (Narok, 3pm)

Sunday

Bandari v Mathare United (Mbaraki, 3pm)

Gor Mahia v AFC Leopards (Nyayo, 3pm)

Kakamega Homeboyz v Tusker (Mumias, 3pm)

Sony Sugar v Kariobangi Sharks (Awendo, 3pm)

Zoo Kericho v Western Stima (Kericho, 3pm)

The competition begins on September 9.

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