Mashemeji derby: Venue dilemma for Gor Mahia leaves fans divided

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Mashemeji derby: Venue dilemma for Gor Mahia leaves fans divided

Joel Omotto 06:00 - 03.04.2024

Football fans have given varied opinions following Gor Mahia’s indication that the high-octane Mashemeji derby against AFC Leopards will be played in Machakos this month.

Football Kenya Federation Premier League champions Gor Mahia have been forced to schedule the high-octane Mashemeji derby at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos due to unavailability of suitable venues in Nairobi.

Gor Mahia are set to host bitter rivals AFC Leopards on April 20 in the return leg of the Mashemeji derby but cannot do it at Kasarani Stadium which is currently closed for renovations or Nyayo National Stadium which will be hosting the Kip Keino Classic on the same day.

That has forced K’Ogalo to look for alternative venues outside the city and the club appears to have settled on the 8,000-seater Kenyatta Stadium, at least according the list of upcoming fixtures, released by the club.

That decision has not gone down well with a section of fans who feel it will not be safe to take the high-risk match to Machakos.

“Gor Mahia FC is a club we all adore and will cherish forever, and as much as we are on top of the FKF Premier League table, something is seriously a miss administratively,” former Gor Mahia treasurer Sally Bolo posted on social media.

“In Kenya, we no longer respect the derby! How can the Gor Mahia office think of hosting an AFC Leopard match in an 8,000-capacity stadium (Machakos)? Don’t they think that this dilutes its historical and cultural importance? “

“Is it no longer a high-risk match? Even if we don’t want to monetize the match, we can't do better.”

Her comments elicited mixed reactions from fans with some supporting her while others do not see any problem with Machakos hosting the match.

“This is so pathetic. Risks to beloved fans, the capacity isn't eligible for [a] derby to be sincere. Please Gor Mahia office, what's this surely,” replied a fan.

“Considering the current trend of fans’ laxity to attend matches, the derby can even be played at Camp Toyoto or the newly-built Dandora soccer ground,” responded a supporter who does not see any issue with Machakos.

Another one said: “It's all about having capacity. Gor doesn't have their own stadium and maybe those stadiums available have already been booked while some management aren't ready to host such [a] high level game. I believe some issues are beyond administration.”

“This is self-inflicting on Gor Mahia. Incidences of hooliganism have made stadiums not keen on hosting their matches,” pointed out a fan who feels Gor Mahia have brought the problems upon themselves.

It is still not known if the decision to settle on Machakos is final but it would be the first time the match will be hosted outside Nairobi in a long time.

Kasarani and Nyayo have traditionally played host to the match but the current situation makes it tricky for host team Gor Mahia, who also have had problems with Sports Kenya over the behaviour of some of their fans at match venues.

It remains to be seen if the venue or match date will be switched to have it in Nairobi with Gor Mahia looking to do the double over Leopards, having beaten them 2-0 in the corresponding fixture at Kasarani last September.

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