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Five things we learned from Mashemeji Derby

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An AFC leopards supporter cheers his team on during the Mashemeji Derby at the Kasarani Stadium against Gor Mahia on May 19, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 20 – Gor Mahia once again proved dominance over their arch rivals AFC Leopards, thrashing the blue and white side of the divide 3-1 at the Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani on Sunday.

This was Gor’s eighth victory over AFC Leopards in their last nine meetings and these are some of the take-aways that Capital Sports picked from the derby attended by close to 12,000 fans.

-Derbies can be useful for a good cause

Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards players hold placards of missing children in a campaign to find missing children during the Mashemeji Derby on May 19, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Much to the amazement of the sizeable crowd that had attended the derby, Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards players walked into the pitch before kick-off, each holding a huge placard of children who have been reported missing and held them high as they lined up before the match.

The procession was organized by Missing Child Kenya, a community led portal that works with organizations and individuals in the child protection sector, and the public to help share information on missing children using various media platforms and increase search efforts at no cost.

The goal of Missing Child Kenya is to boost search efforts for missing children by sharing photo posters and alerts to as broad an audience and in the fastest of time as possible.

The campaign was dubbed #WapiWatotoWetu and with a huge Television crowd adding to the over 12,000 at the venue, the message sure was driven home.

“Across the world, footballers are accompanied to the pitch by child mascots and as a way of honoring the role played by these children, AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia players walked to the pitch holding photographs of missing children. The aim was to raise awareness about the alarming rate of missing children in Kenya,” Missing Child Kenya explained.

-Derby is no derby without ‘research fights’

AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia stewards were in constant fights during the Mashemeji Derby. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Derbies are interesting and funny at the same time. From players not using the same exit off the pitch to the dressing room before kick off to fights between stewards over ‘research’ and the other divide crossing lines, everything pre-match and during the game was interesting.

Stewards from both clubs engaged in fist fights all through before kick-off, one boiling over to the extent that the police had to come in between to separate the very two groups that were supposed to ensure safety in the venue.

The reason? One had crossed the locker room entrance before players had passed. This is taboo!

At half time, there was another round of fights, this time the AFC group throwing themselves at the Gor side accusing them of hitting their head coach Cassa Mbungo as he went in at half time. Again, The boys in blue had to step in.

-Philemon Otieno shows how to shush Were

Gor Mahia defender Philemon Otieno is warned by referee Israel Mpaima after slashing down AFC Leopards’ Paul Were during the Mashemeji Derby on May 19, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

If there was anyone that would lift AFC spirits and give them hope of victory over K’Ogalo, then it was big game player Paul Were.

The winger has scored and assisted in each of his last four games for AFC, save for the away trip to Sony and the midweek loss to KCB which he didn’t play. If you ever needed someone to carry your team on his shoulders, then the sensational winger was the man.

But, Were found his match in Gor’s Philemon Otieno, nicknamed Mbish.

Not your new-age kind of right back that would maraud the right wing with runs and float in crosses, come back and defend then repeat, but the Harambee Stars man got the job done.

He was breathing on Were’s sleeve whether on or off the ball. Infact, his only shots on target came when he vacated the right side of Gor’s defense and skipped to the left, where he could at least manage to run rings around Geoffrey Ochieng.

-Cheche should be back at central defense

AFC Leopards defender David ‘Cheche’ Ochieng organizes his backline during the Mashemeji Derby at the Kasarani Stadium on May 19, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

AFC conceded all their three goals from cheap defensive mistakes, but once head coach Cassa Mbungo made the goal to change his tactical board and drag skipper of the day David Ochieng back to defense, the boat settled in the windy sea.

Ochieng threw himself at anything and everything, despite picking up a knee injury early in the first half. His leadership and composure at the back was a welcome relief for AFC.

Should he have been played at this position from the time he joined the team? Well perhaps yes because that is his strongest position and he showed exactly that in the final 25 minutes he manned the backline.

-No Oliech, no problem. We got Kip!

Gor Mahia forward Nicholas Kipkurui celebrates his goal against AFC Leopards during the Mashemeji Derby on May 19, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Coming at a time when Gor Mahia are worried over who plays an assistant’s role to their lead striker Jacques Tuyisenge, Nicholas Kipkurui rose up and showed them not to look any further, especially with the injury to Dennis Oliech.

The former Zoo Kericho man stood up to the plate, striking a predator’s brace and played a role in Tuyisenge’s third, his chipped effort pushed to the bar and Tuyisenge headed it home from close range.

Kipkurui, signed from Zoo Kericho at the beginning of the season has proved to be a worthy bargain and for his efforts is Gor’s top scorer this season with nine goals.

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