Gor Mahia v Ulinzi Stars
by Michael Kirwa
The growing rivalry between the two teams over the years means that the fixture has rightfully taken its place as an event of great significance on the fixture’s calendar. Much as it remains unknown whoever between will proceed to the next stage of the competition, their pairing for this tie was never tie was never in doubt. The moment Tusker and Mathare United were drawn from pots 1 and 2 respectively on Wednesday March 27 it became quite clear that that evening’s Tusker Premier League match pitting the two sides at City Stadium would be a worthy curtain-raiser. Later that day, Ulinzi Stars captain Evans Amwoka scored a brace to hand victory to his side and with the wounds from that painful defeat still fresh, Gor Mahia have once again found themselves with some unfinished business to settle with the Soldiers.
This will be the fourth meeting between the two teams in this competition and so far the honours are even: a drawn match and win for each with each win having its fair share of controversy that have definitely made the rivalry between the two soar at higher heights. Their 2011 2nd leg semifinal tie was abandoned in the 57th minute after crowd trouble that was sparked by Gor Mahia being denied a penalty following a handball by an Ulinzi Stars player. Before that incident, Gor Mahia had had a goal disallowed for an offside offence and after efforts to tame crowd proved futile, the referee, Sylvester Musonye, had no choice but to end the match. At that time Ulinzi Stars were leading 1-0 courtesy of a Mike Barasa goal in the first-half. The two teams met again last year in the finals of the tournament and after a goalless 90 minutes, goals from Rama Salim and Itubu Imbem in extra-time settled the tie in favour of Gor Mahia. However Gor Mahia’s win was not without controversy as Rama Salim’s goal had not fully crossed the line and Itubu Imbem scored the winner after receiving the ball from Rama Salim who was in an offside position when the ball was played to him by Edwin Lavatsa.
Such are the kind of stuff that rivalries are made of and much as it is difficult to tell if their upcoming encounter will live up to the drama and controversies of their previous meetings, there is no denying that the fans will be in for yet another tense and nail-biting affair. A look at recent meeting between the two teams is a testament to the tense nature of the fixture. 5 of their last meeting have ended 1-0 with their being two barren draws and three 2-0 wins – two for Gor Mahia and one for Ulinzi Stars. So despite the fixture being a cup match, it would be a bit far-fetched to expect a thrilling encounter punctuated with wonderful exhibition of football skills and heart-warming gestures of sportsmanship. Not in this fixture. The match will most likely be won by whoever scores first after which the trailing team will have their mental strength tested as their opponents resort to time wasting and other unsporting behaviours to wind down the clock. And that is what that makes this fixture interesting to follow; brain meets brawn, art meets graft and culture meets brute.
Probably some of the oldest clubs in the Kenyan football scene- it’s only befitting these two teams meet for the first time in the KPL TOP 8 tourney on a day when Mathare United make a return to this tournament having missed out in 2012. Tusker FC on the other hand have never won this tournament and looking at their trend; Quarter Finalists 2011, Semi Finalists 2012 could it be time they finally won it?
Both having not experienced strong starts to their seasons- Mathare languishing slightly above the relegation zone with close to double the number of matches Tusker have played so far. Tusker FC returning from a terrible continental outing but bubbling with experience will hope this is the time to register their first piece of silverware for the 2013 season even as they push to defend their TPL title.
The goals haven’t been easy to come by this season not just for Tusker FC and Mathare United- even the other big boys are suffering too. With renewed front lines- it’s time Mathare’s Okumbi proved to the world he made the right signings; for Matano his bully nature might have to be transferred from the touchline to the pitch. However hard it might seem- the Brewers faithful might soon not bottle it down their throats another striker’s no-show.
Mathare FC might not seem to be under pressure as they seek to rebuild under the youthful Okumbi and a whole youthful experience painted all over in yellow and gold- Tusker FC on the other hand must chase the other piece of silverware they have never won.
However for both clubs, the ultimate prize must be the 1M shillings on offer. 24th April doesn’t seem far away any more but the journey certainly excites every single body cell.
Honoured to have huge titles such as ‘FATHERS OF THE KENYAN GAME’ it’s time for a fatherly game. Mind not the changes and spell of form, as they say; Form is temporary, Class is permanent.
I never wanted to end this post without showing you something exciting. How many of you have seen this? Whether it’s made by a fan or the Mathare United Community this animation- i must say it will impress you.I couldn’t get the player to play on the blog but you can click here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ok45lwSUa5s
to watch it.
Ladies and Gentlemen, superfoota.com has been nominated in this year’s Bloggers of Kenya Awards under the Sports Category. To vote for SUPERFOOTA.COM as your favourite blog; just click http://www.bloggers.or.ke/voting/
under the Best Sports Blog, select Superfoota.com and click submit my vote at the bottom of the page. Tell your friends about it and let them vote too. Voting closes on 1st May 2013. Thank You