Football Football

Mashemeji drawn apart in Top 8 semis


GOR-VS-AFCNAIROBI, Kenya, April 22 Local giants Gor Mahia and bitter rivals AFC Leopards were kept apart in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) Top 8 semi-finals conducted on Tuesday inviting the prospect of a derby finale.

Defending champions Tusker FC will host league titleholders K’Ogalo in a repeat of last season while Leopards will be away to face debutants KCB in the first leg of last four ties.

The first legs will go down on May 21 at Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium with the returns slated for June 4 at the same venue.

“We decided to reschedule the semi-final dates that were initially set for this weekend to accommodate Harambee Stars Africa Nations Cup qualifies that were announced by CAF.

“We will have a meeting with all the head coaches on Saturday to harmonize the fixtures until the end of the season, this has been hesitated by the interruption of the GOtv Shield, Cecafa Club fixtures,” KPL CEO, Jack Oguda, said during the draw.

K’Ogalo and Ingwe have never met in the competition and the first time they were paired together was in 2012 where Leopards pulled out of the tournament citing security concerns.

Last year the pair were eliminated in the quarter-finals with Gor having the opportunity to turn tables on the Brewers, now under Francis Kimanzi, for toppling them last season as they failed to hold on to the crown.

“This is a tournament that we will be looking to defend so we have already taken a step and that is to play two matches in the semis so every time we win a match we create an opportunity or a challenge for the team to play in another match. For us its important we compete to the end and retain the trophy.

“I will not be minding on how we played in the league since this is a different tournament they might change their tactics so for me I will be concentrating on my team,” Kimanzi said after the draw.

“You can run but not hide and for us we want to settle that score but it will not going to be an easy game. The last time we played to a 1-1 draw that gave us a lot of encouragement.

“I think they have a good squad this year but we can match them and also being defending champions we want to prove to them we are also there and we want the trophy once again,” Gor assistant head coach, Bobby Ogolla, stated.

“It’s good that we are playing Tusker because playing against Mashemeji (Leopards) would have put us in a very awkward position because it would mean we play them again in the GOtv Shield and League in succession.

“If we sail through we can play them in the finals if they qualify but for now its not the right time to play the derby,” he added.

On the other hand, Leopards assistant coach Abdallah Juma will have the opportunity to get back at the Bankers who sacked him a week ago when he leads Ingwe against KCB in the other semi-finals.