Mashemeji Derby: Otieno on fans unable to attend Gor Mahia vs AFC Leopards

The federation now comes out to explain why fans will not be allowed to grace the first round derby at Kasarani Stadium

Football Kenya Federation has clarified the reason fans will not be allowed to attend the FKF Premier League derby pitting rivals Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards on Sunday.

For the past one week, fans from the two giants have been pushing their clubs to talk to the government and the federation so that they are allowed to watch the derby which will be played at Kasarani Stadium.

The fans pleaded with the federation to even allow at least 3,000 spectators from each team to attend the match and also promised to make sure they adhere to the tough restrictions put in place by the Kenyan government to help curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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However, FKF has now shut the door on fans and only essential workers including journalists, security officers and 30 members from each club will be allowed to access the match venue and FKF CEO Barry Otieno has explained the reason behind it.

“I think we need to appreciate fans play a very crucial role in football, not only in football but sports, in general, they create an atmosphere but most importantly they [fans] also provide an avenue for clubs to generate revenue,” Otieno told Goal.

“We are at a situation now where we cannot have fans, for now, it is not in our liking, it is caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, there are protocols in place and the decision of if and when fans are allowed to watch matches will purely be dependent on the sanitary situation of Covid-19 in the country.

“So it is not something we can sit down here and discuss that we can have x number of fans attending matches unless we are advised by the Ministry of Health that according to their assessment provided by their Covid-19 professionals, it is safe to bring back the fans.

“For now as you are all aware and as you have seen all around the world is that fans are not allowed into the stadium because it is for their own safety and the players and the Kenyan public, so we cannot fix a number of how many fans will come back to the stadium.

“However, as a federation, we want to say if and when the decision of returning fans to the stadium is announced, then we will have to do it gradually, progressively, and consistently until we reach the good number of fans attending matches.”

The two Kenyan giants will face off with K’Ogalo keen to maintain their dominance over Ingwe, who are yet to beat Gor Mahia in their last seven matches with the best result against their rivals coming in the 1-1 draw of the 2017-18 season with Gor Mahia winning the second round fixture 1-0.

Last season, Gor Mahia won both encounters, beating Ingwe 4-1 in the first round match before edging them out by a solitary goal en-route to winning their fourth straight league title.

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