Betway Cup Final: Return of the Mashemeji derby

BetWAy Cup Final

Betway Cup which is Football Kenya Federation’s domestic cup is set to be played today. Unlike the past low-key finals, the football nation has seen in the past, today’s event pits historical rivals together. Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards will be up and gun blazing in order to win the match. Commonly referred to as the Mashemeji derby or derby of the in-laws, the winner of the highly contested match will not only represent Kenya at the continental CAF Confederation Cup. The winner will at the same time go home with the bragging rights as well as monetary rewards from the sponsors of the domestic cup.

Kenyan heavyweights Gor Mahia reached the finals after eliminating resilient Bidco United on 5-1 post-match penalties. The match had ended in a 1-1 draw with the regular time. AFC Leopards on the other hand reached the finals after eliminating FKF Division One side Equity 7-6 again in a post-match penalty. This followed a goalless that both teams recorded at the Utalii Grounds.

With the narrow escapes into the finals, there is no doubt that today’s final is going to be a tough and entertaining one at the same time. Each team perhaps will be chasing glory, bragging rights, cash reward as well as flying the Kenyan flag at the continental stage.

AFC Leopards, for instance, have not won a single match against their arch-rivals since 2016. A long period indeed. It’s not surprising therefore to hear that the Mashemeji derby died a long time ago as it’s more of a one-sided thing. The derby has therefore in recent years been so much predictable as the gem that once held it together is long gone.

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Who will win the BetWay Cup final?

In a similar final in 2013, AFC Leopards disappointed Gor Mahia as their sole goal of the day diminished Gor’s ambition of a double. They would both represent Kenya at the continental stage for CAF’s premier competition. Gor Mahia being the then winners of the premier league represented Kenya at the CAF Champions League while AFC Leopards carried the Kenyan flag to the CAF Confederation Cup. Both teams were eliminated in both competitions and thereafter came back for their usual league activities.

Gor Mahia has since then graced the continental stage seven times. AFC Leopards, on the other hand, gracing the continental stage remains an all-time dream. In the seven years of appearance at the continental stage, Gor has had to gamble in between the Champions League and the Confederation Cup. This has been a result of the team failing to advance past the preliminaries of the Champions League. As a result of the performance, they have numerously found refuge at the low-key Confederation Cup. Their woes and bad omen have however constantly followed them to that competition. Struggling to pose any admirable and enviable results for their legion of fans and the country at large.

Gor Mahia however is accustomed to playing at the continental level. No matter the number of struggles they face year in and year out. The best for the, therefore, is to play at the next edition. That means defeating AFC Leopards in today’s mouth-watering clash to be held at the Nyayo National Stadium. Having missed a chance to qualify for the 2021/22 CAF Champions League slot, K’ogalo is now banking all their hopes in the BetWay Cup to be played today. At least to that effect, their recent form against AFC Leopards and their fine run are up for their eternal wish.

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Cup underdogs

There is no single doubt that AFC Leopards heads to today’s match as the underdogs. It has been the same whenever they play the Green Army in the last four years. Will they come past the underdog tag? Only time will tell as all is already set for the duel. For the past six league matches, Gor Mahia has managed four wins, a draw and one catastrophic loss against Western Stima. AFC Leopards on the other hand have only managed a mere dismal one win, three draws and two losses. If numbers are really something to believe in then Ingwe might be in for a rude shock if they still hope to upset the resilient K’ogalo.

Gor Mahia knows clearly well that without the BetWay Cup, they will automatically be out of the continental stage. AFC Leopards on the other hand knows as well that without the trophy, their trophy drought will continue to extend longer than they could have ever wished. Realities on both camps make the teams come out for the best they can.

Coaches on both sides have little information about the derby. Unless from folktales from their respective boardroom staff and those players that have been therefore for a long time. They however recognize the importance of a derby having transversed the football world. Patrick Aussems is well aware of whenever Azam and Simba took it to the pitch and so with Vaz Pinto with St. George of Ethiopia.

With the duel set for today, the legion of fans from far and wide can only hope that they won’t get disappointed at the end of the match. Who will carry the day? Is it K’ogalo or is it Ingwe?