Mashemeji derby is Kenya’s all-time prime football derby. Pitting arch-rivals Gor Mahia FC and AFC Leopards, the derby has managed to outlive generations. Indeed, generations have passed and have all had a taste of the pompous derby all through over the years. The two clubs have played in between them 92 matches since the inception of the derby on May 5th 1968. In that particular match, Gor Mahia won the match in a 1-0 scoreline to the detriment of their hopeless rivals. It was the same year that Gor Mahia was established under the tutelage of then Labour Minister Tom Mboya.
AFC Leopards SC on the other end had enjoyed a good taste of the national league and competitions having been established much earlier. In that particular season, Gor Mahia FC came and conquered the Kenyan football scene by winning the league.
In the 92 matches that the clubs have played under the legendary Mashemeji derby, Gor Mahia has won a total of 32 matches. AFC Leopards SC have won 28 of the total matches while 32 of the same matches have gone into a draw. From the statistics, it’s automatic to conclude that Gor Mahia are so far the kings of the Mashemeji derby. The derby of the in-laws.
Over the years, however, much has happened between the two arch-rivals. Clubs that have religiously and passionately put Kenyan football into the world. The one time most successful clubs are now hanging on hope. It is only through that, that they can comfortably maintain the derby alive.
The same played out as we entered the weekend. Football lovers in the country and abroad were hopeful of having another entertaining encounter just like in the past.
Mashemeji derby underdogs
The dwindling fortunes of the Mashemeji derby is not only about how other clubs in the African continent have outsmarted our successful club. AFC Leopard’s SC poor in the derby signalled the death of the derby. Indeed, the poor form has ensued Gor Mahia FC wins after wins in all the clubs that the two clubs have had since 2016 May. May 2016 is the last time that AFC Leopards defeated their rivals in any official competition. The worst for Gor Mahia in those encounters have been the draws that they have as well accumulated along that particular journey. The draws have however been the highlights of a determined AFC Leopards side.
To resuscitate the derby of the in-laws, therefore, means that a lot needs to be done in terms of bringing the two clubs at per. To ensure that the aspect of competitiveness is guaranteed to the legion of each club’s supporters. Indeed, AFC Leopards lacklustre in the derby has really done a great ordeal in lowering the numbers of fans that attend the derby. Gor Mahia’s now fading face of hooliganism has as well done a great disservice to the derby.
Every other sports fan knows the magnitude that a derby carries. It’s the same hope that more often, keeps fans posted on the affairs of the teams that they dearly support. It gives a sense of identity and hope. Mashemeji derby can only come out the moment the two clubs will improve the kind of skilful display it had in the past. That will definitely guarantee the two clubs a huge fan base one more time.
One of the biggest undoings for the two successful clubs in the country has been internal wrangles. AFC Leopards SC takes a huge chunk of this. The club has had to gamble its leadership from one person to the other and from time to time. Of course, tribal and political alienation is at the behest for it. With it, there is barely a season that AFC Leopards SC have finished with the same coach that they started with. This has automatically affected the performance of the club on the pitch as it normally looks less of a trial-and-error mission for the honchos in charge.
Gor Mahia on the other end, might not have had a great tumult in the management courtesy of the presence of Ambrose Rachier who is the longest-serving Chairman of the club. The rate at which the club is parting ways with their dallied foreign coaches is however so alarming, in this season alone, Gor Mahia has had at least four coaches in the dugout. That explains better the poor performance that they have recorded.
Who will save the dwindling Mashemeji derby then?