NAIROBI, Kenya, May 21- It’s a fixture that defies logic, convention and sometimes stirs up unbelievable emotions.
Stephen Samuel, a Yanga (Young African) fan became an internet sensation last October after an interview featuring him crying after his team lost to bitter rivals Simba SC 5-0, went viral encapsulating the deep adoration the opposing set of supporters unconditionally reserve for their sides.
On Saturday, Samuel could finally carry the bragging rights after his newly crowned Vodacom Ligi Kuu Bara (Mainland Premier League) champions stamped the seal to their glory by beating Simba 2-0 at the National Stadium in Dar.
Goals from Didier Kavumbagu in the fourth minute and a second half strike from Khamis Kiiza delivered the victory with former Sofapaka midfielder, Musa Mudde applying icing to the cake by missing a spot-kick for Simba.
But how does this fixture compare to our own Gor Mahia versus AFC Leopards derby?
On the eve of the game, long queues formed as fans of both Tanzanian giants lined-up to snap the almost 60,000 tickets on offer with satellite television SuperSport who covered the match live showing 54,700 attended the game at half time.
There was heavy police presence at the ticket selling points as the supporters engaged in shouting matches, jeering and in one case, a Simba adherent lost a finger after an argument and the culprit was dealt with decisively.
Owing to security, many more ticket holders were locked outside the stadium building the simmering tensions that surrounded one of the seven fixtures that brought the league to a close and inside, stewards and police were facing the crowd, not watching the game as is the norm here.
The recent Gor and Leopards clash was held a week earlier had only 30,000 tickets allowed to watch as a security precaution owing frequent clashes between their supporters with seven fans dying at Nyayo National Stadium following a stampede in 2011.
Hundreds of kilometres away in Tanga, JKT (Jeshi la Kulinda Taifa) Mgambo Shooting entertained already relegated African Lyon at the Mkwakwazi Stadium in the coastal city.
The military side needed a draw to maintain their top-flight status with a loss coupled with a win for Polisi Morogoro (who went on to defeat Coastal Union 2-0) seeing them relegated.
However, Mgambo fans like their Lyon counterparts at Mkwakazi carried pocket radios to the match to monitor what was transpiring in Dar, pausing only on the 29th minute to celebrate Fulgence Maganga’s goal that eventually saved them from the chop in their 1-0 win.
Immediately after the final whistle, they disappeared to watch the remainder of the Dar derby, sparing little time to celebrate their team’s feat of avoiding relegation on their first season in the top-flight.
“Yanga na Simba ndizo nguzo za kadanda Tanzania na kila mmoja wetu hushabikia mmoja wao ijapokuwa bado tunaenzi timu za mikoa yetu (Yanga and Simba are the mainstays of Tanzanian football even though we follow our regional sides),” Abdul Musa, a Mgambo supporter who stopped briefly to field questions asserted.
“Compared to the two teams, other clubs in Tanzania struggle to make end meets especially honouring their away matches. We are lucky we get some support from the military but this is not enough to challenge the big two teams.
“We have to do with whatever little resources we have and we recruit most of our players from bottom teams or those that Yanga and Simba dispose,” Mohammed Kampira, the Mgambo head coach told Capital Sport.
Well-heeled Azam FC is the only team that has managed to break the duopoly of the two Dar giants and such is the disdain they are viewed that their team bus was flooded by a torrent of abuse when it arrived in Arusha from their final fixture.
Azam finished second in the league to earn the right to represent Tanzania in the CAF Confederation Cup next season, relegating Simba to third.
Similarly, Gor and Leopards are the only clubs in Kenya that possess such huge national following with branches spread countrywide but while only a percentage of fans actually contribute to their team’s welfare, Yanga and Simba fans never shy away from emptying their pockets for their sides.
Cases of supporters for example jostling to get to the stadium without paying that is rife among K’Ogalo and Ingwe supporters was not evident in Dar but even the Tanzanians acknowledge the magnitude of Gor and Leopards derby that got much mention in the Tanzanian press ahead of the Yanga and Simba tie.
Yanga and Simba have continued dominating the Tanzanian league while it was only in the last two seasons that the Kenyan giants have come close to bagging the domestic top flight title.
Just like Gor and Leopards, Yanga and Simba are managed by foreign coaches with Ernest Brandts and Frenchman Patrick Leiwig at the helm in that order although the latter’s job hangs in the balance after the derby defeat.
While Ingwe and Gor rarely poach each other’s players nowadays, their Tanzanian counterparts were called to two stormy meetings by the Tanzanian Football Federation (TFF) in January alone to resolve disputes among them arising from signing their rivals’ top stars.
During the January transfer window, Mrisho Ngassa’s switch from Azam to Simba sparked off a huge row over his brazen love for Yanga, kissing the club’s jersey after scoring a goal.
Mbuyu Twite and Kelvin Yondani are other players who brought the boards of Yanga and Simba to war after making the cross town moves with the former pocketing $32,000 (Sh2.6m) from Simba despite signing for Yanga.
In both cases, the committee in charge of governing rules and welfare of players in TFF ruled in favour of the champions.
Defender Eric Masika, is the last player to make the switch from Gor to AFC Leopards two seasons back.
While no one can remember whether Gor and AFC Leopards have ever shared a sponsor, both Yanga and Simba are jointly sponsored by Kilimanjaro Lager. Tuzo Milk and Mumias Sugar logos are blazoned in Gor and Leopards jerseys.