It’s a few hours to probably one of Kenya’s greatest football battles- actually dragging history into the whole mix; this is the greatest football rivalry of all time in this part of the world. Just like expected before any derby day- the whole city would be abuzz with both sets of fans taunting each other, the online streets littered with pre-match debris and the media wanting to lead from the front- would be putting their best foot forward as they seek to market this footballing spectacle like they’ve never done before.
It’s been over 40 years since the first Nairobi Derby was played, much has taken place since then and with both teams sharing such a rich history between them littered with titles and all sorts of honours it’s shocking that this year’s event is treated so ‘casually’.
I’m not going to try and compare this year’s second leg of the Nairobi Derby to any other derby but it’s right to note that the ‘level of pre-match buzz’ leading to this tie has been such a low key affair.
Hooliganism and Security
We should all not pretend to lie about this- the footballing mood in the nation has been in the recent past largely painted by acts of hooliganism that has further shoved away fans interests from this type of match.
While we might all want to blame the fans for the acts of hooliganism, it’s also right to note the clubs don’t seem to have done lot’s to calm the situation. While Gor Mahia had a case to answer the SSMB (The body mandated with the running of our stadiums)- AFC Leopards fans showed their other side in the recent KPL U19 Semi match when they attacked the referee at the stroke of full time.
Away from the home clubs duty of also offering security- fans can no longer take their own security for granted. While the league officials might go on TV and announce (what number of police is on offer), it’s a shame that the police force doesn’t seem to properly handle such situations. Perfect case example would be teargasing the crowd, something that would lead to more injuries rather than forming a human shield between the set of fans to properly monitor the situation.
A certain trend too seems to be cropping up where fans have lost their cars from the parking lot and even others dragged away from the stadium (journalists included) by club stewards for what they term (juju) against their teams. While this might have only been exhibited in a few matches, if the trend is not halted soon; might soon blow up to be one large reason for fan disquiet in our stadiums.
Back to the football pitch- the two clubs have had sort of contrasting fortunes. While Gor Mahia seems to be running away with the title- AFC Leopards seem to be almost catching up but as last weekend’s match against City Stars shown: there’s still some work to be done.
Gor Mahia seems to have found their rhythm again after haplessly devouring Muhoroni Youth but it should be noted Muhoroni Youth at the bottom of the table seems to be struggling to survive while the other pack (Tusker, Thika) that would have been offering some good opposition, seems to be falling off the way.
While a win for AFC Leopards might not change the situation at the top of the table where Gor lead the second placed team with a margin of seven points- it’s good to note AFC Leopards (currently 5th) would have put themselves in a decent position (2nd) to try and chase for the title hoping Gor Mahia and other teams falter along the way.
Gor Mahia would love to put themselves in a position where they are (close to unreachable) with a win. Last year’s heartbreak at the last day of the season wouldn’t be a good feat to repeat and with the city’s bragging rights and three points in the offing- AFC Leopards fans should hope their team put their best foot forward.
A loss for either teams wouldn’t be anything to smile about especially AFC Leopards who would fall further down the table to an unprecedented (7th or 8th) depending on other league fixtures that will be played next week. Gor Mahia’s 7 point gap at the top would still cushion their safety but slightly distort their comfort.
While some of us may want to point a finger at the media for not doing enough to hype this derby to extreme levels as in the past, its right to note the whole hullabaloo that has surrounded this league fixture has made it out rightly difficult to do so.
It’s actually up to just three four day ago that the venue was determined and even gate charges released. It’s then difficult for the media with little info to make a whole meal out of it.
Lot’s still needs to be done in subsequent derbies to make this a whole huge and exciting event- from the sponsors of both sides, the league administration, the clubs themselves (security and hooliganism issues) and lastly the media.
While the pre-match hype may have not been there, We’re here- let’s enjoy this. On twitter watch out for the trends #SSKPL #NairobiDerby #GorLive #MashemejiDerby #ShemejiDerby, Talk about Gor Mahia, talk about AFC Leopards-This should be beautiful. Enjoy the atmosphere.
Have a peaceful Derby Day, Won’t you?
Biggest shout out to one of this blog’s followers @hilla_chesebe .Created me beautiful graphics for the Nairobi Derby, I loved them, I used them- get in touch with him for more of his work.