The year 1968 marked the beginning of Mashemeji Derby, a rivalry between two teams in Kenya, AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia, that would carry on for decades when the two teams locked horns for the first time on May 5.
The two teams have a mass following with the fans of AFC Leopards referred to as Ingwe while Gor Mahia’s fans going with the name K’Ogalo. The two recognize themselves as arch rivals who will stop at nothing to see their teams excel. They are well known to be unrelenting rioters.
If you can recall, on 2011’s Mashujaa Day, Ingwe fans had caused the desertion of an FKL Cup quarter-final when they began doing what they know best; pelting linesmen with stones and objects after Gor Mahia made a remarkably well-worked goal from a Moses Odhiambo and Moses Otieno combination.
Although the 1-0 scoreline was allowed to stand, AFC Leopards were made to forfeit the game. They also controversially escaped further bans. Meanwhile, Gor Mahia went on to memorably lift the Cup beating Sofapaka at the Nairobi City Stadium six days later. It then earned a right to represent the country in the 2012 CAF Confederation Cup.
Sadly, the rivalry and stone-throwing didn’t end there. During a match on March 23, 2012, when midfielder Ali Abondo was given a red card following a risky tackle on Leopards’ Amon Muchiri, K’Ogalo fans immediately began murmuring and a few minutes later, it was a full-fledged riot.
The unrest led to Gor Mahia being banned from using the Nyayo National Stadium and the Kasarani Stadium for the rest of the year’s season. The riot also led to the 8th Round of the derby match in the 2012 Kenya Premier League Top 8 Cup.
It hasn’t been all rosy for the two teams and their fans. Although the Ingwe and K’Ogalo fans have been involved in countless riot cases, the latter find themselves mostly on the wrong side of the law way more than their Ingwe counterparts.
Even when they are celebrating, the fans somehow find a way to mess things up. In 2013, after winning their FKF President’s Cup semi-final against Sony Sugar, K’Ogalo fans celebrated by flooding the pitch to attack Sony Sugar players.
Sony Sugar’s goalkeeper as a resulted sustained some injuries that led to him being admitted to hospital. Not long after, the fans were at it again. This time, it was Sofapaka officials who were ambushed during a KPL match.
A memorable incident for the Ingwe fans was when their team was playing Thika United. They descended onto the field five minutes before the game ended in frustration at the Leopard’s failure to come back from a 1–0 deficit. The team, of course, lost the game and the KPL handed Thika United a 2–0 win. AFC Leopards was fined a total of 500,000 shillings as a result.
Though the passion of the fans during encounters between the teams add to the intensity of the derby matches, at some point, the fans of the two teams were banned from attending the events as it would usually end up in a fight.
Gor Mahia has won the Kenyan Premier League a record 16 times, while AFC Leopards have 13 league titles to their name. The two teams have seen a fair share of ups and downs. On 8 June 2014, Gor Mahia was condemned to their heaviest defeat that season until that point.
Meanwhile, on the recently concluded battle of the teams for the Hull City Challenge Gor Mahia defeated AFC Leopards 5-4 on penalty at Afraha Stadium. The Mashemeji Derby ended with a barren draw after both sides failed to break the deadlock. A situation which forced the match to be decided on the penalty kick. Gor Mahia will now face the English championship side Hull City on May 13 at Kasarani, in a one-of-a-kind match.
The maiden visit goes a long way in promoting the local talent as it will also see the coming up of centers and training camps to nurture the Kenyan players.