Leopards, Nzoia take derby battle to Kenyatta Stadium

AFC Leopards SC forward Marcelus ‘Adebayo’ Ingotsi (R) celebrates scoring against Wazito FC with his ...
AFC Leopards SC forward Marcelus ‘Adebayo’ Ingotsi (R) celebrates scoring against Wazito FC with his teammate Ibrahim Mao during their friendly match at Camp Toyoyo stadium in Nairobi, Kenya on February 08, 2017. Leopards SC won 6-1. Photo/Stafford Ondego/www/sportpicha.com

The Kenyatta Stadium will enchant local fans for the third time in just over a week as Machakos braces up to host the potentially mouth-watering derby clash between domestic giants AFC Leopards and their Western region counterparts Nzoia United on Saturday.

The stadium was the preferred venue for the national team’s friendly matches with Uganda and DR Congo following the closures of Nyayo National Stadium and the Moi International Sports Center Kasarani for renovation.

Now, the stadium that witnessed a massive turnout as Stars played to a barren stalemate against neighbours Uganda on Thursday and stunned DR Congo 2-1 three days hosts yet another high-profile match as the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) resumes.

Leopards Chairman Dan Mule reiterated they opted to shift the match to the Kenyatta Stadium due to its geographical convenience for their Nairobi-based fans.

“We have a large following in Nairobi and therefore it will be easy for them to access the stadium and get back home,” Mule told Citizen Digital.

He however ruled out the possibility of adopting the venue as their home stadium for the rest of the season as they seek to establish their best fit.

“We won’t make the Stadium our home ground but even after the renovation of Nyayo which is our home ground we will still have some matches played in Machakos.

“We have played some KPL matches in Kenyatta Stadium and also we have done some practice their so it won’t be a challenge and we are ready for the derby,” he asserted.

The official added they are ready for the threat posed by their highly potent rivals who made headlines last term when they literally stormed into top flight, losing only two of their 38 National Super league (NSL) matches.

Nzoia carried that form into the top flight, getting their season off to a flyer with a 5-2 demolition of KPL champions Tusker FC in their opening fixture before their goalless draw against Mathare United a week later.

But their rivals Ingwe, the second most successful club in the country, come into the clash on the back of a resounding 3-0 win over Nakumatt FC in their opener and will be seeking to build momentum for what would be a 13th domestic title.

“We know this will be a big game because we understand it is a derby and we are ready to stop Nzoia and we are aware of their good form which they have shown in the last two games and especially their massive win against the champion,” Mule underscored.

Ingwe are almost a completely different side from the woeful team that finished last term placed in an 13th on the log, having brought a dozen new signings and hired a new Head Coach, Englishman Stewart Hall.

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Story By Stanley Mativo
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