NAIROBI, Kenya, July 20- When a wild feline is hungry, it’s hunting instincts are at the very best and as AFC Leopards, who have not exactly clawed their Kenyan Premier League opponents in the last seven matches, Sunday offers them the prized prey.
Nyayo National Stadium will once again be the arena where the points-starved Ingwe will take on their most fervent rivals, Gor Mahia hoping to make a huge statement by feasting on the three on offer.
“Mine is to emphasise we are going to play on Sunday a match that is the local derby. By no means, these are the two teams with the largest following in the country. As you are aware, the Leopard is hungry, it has not been fed for days and it will be fed on Sunday,” AFC chairman, Alex Ole Magelo, said on Wednesday.
They come to the derby having won 2-1 at Thika last weekend as Gor were held to a barren stalemate by Mathare United in Nairobi but on the overall table, Ingwe’s archrivals have a nine point deficit to bridge from their title chasing opponents having won only two in the last eight.
But as Gor coach, Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno conceded on Monday, the table standings have no bearing whenever the two clubs meet and Magelo, who was present at his team’s training on Wednesday afternoon, has the confidence to smell blood.
“I have never taken any team lightly and AFC are no exception and there is this clout surrounding Gor Mahia vs AFC and whenever this two teams play, it does not matter which position the teams are, it’s about those particular 90 minutes,” Zico told Capital Sport on Tuesday.
“My technical bench has told me we are so ready for the match,” Magelo who will be on the stands when their recently appointed 70-year-old Dutch head coach Jan Coops faces the old enemy in his first Kenya Derby.
“It’s a battle of legs and may the best team win. I want to call the Ingwe fans to turn in large numbers. We were worried we would get fewer tickets but that has been assured there are enough. This is a match between two old friends cum enemies and after the 90 minutes we shall hug each other and have coffee,” he added.
As expected of the game between the clubs that are claimed to share 25 league titles, the pulses are racing among their supporters with the dark shadow of matters spiralling out of control in the stands looming over the fixture.
With this in mind, the AFC chair called on the media to restrain from creating buzz around the match that could lead to acrimony on Sunday.
“Do not hype it in a manner that is a tension packed match. Down those legs, it will be tension packed but let it be on the field not the fans,” he stressed.