Nyayo Stadium completion a relief to Gor, Leopards
David Ndolo and Agencies
Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards have expressed their delight to news that Nyayo National Stadium will be opened on May 31 after the completion of rehabilitation process.
The stadium was closed nearly three years ago for renovation and work has taken longer than anticipated, forcing Gor and Leopards, who utilised the facility for home matches before it was closed, to seek alternative venues.
But on Monday, Sports Principal Secretary Joe Okudo, who toured the facility with Sports Kenya Director General Pius Metto, said the stadium is nearing completion having been fitted with everything required.
The news is a relief to both K’Ogalo and Ingwe, who claim to have suffered losses since they were forced to seek refuge elsewhere.
Gor have been playing most of their matches at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos and Kisumu’s Moi Stadium while Leopards preferred Mumias Complex and Bukhungu Stadium, both in Kakamega, for home matches but now hope to return to Nairobi where most of their fans are based.
“We have incurred losses due to fan apathy since our home matches have been played away in Kisumu.
We have ended up getting meager funds in gate collections,” said Gor chairman Ambrose Rachier yesterday.
Leopards boss Dan Shikanda had also expressed similar sentiments early this year, while calling on the government to complete the facility quickly.
Rowdy fans warned
“We have suffered enough and it’s time the Sports Ministry allowed us to use Nyayo Stadium for our home matches.
Since we started hosting our matches in Machakos, the highest amount of money we have collected is Sh5,000 and we can’t continue counting losses yet Nyayo is our home ground,” Shikanda had said in January.
However, while Nyayo is nearing completion, the government has warned rowdy fans that they will be jailed for vandalising stadium property which has glass on its outer layer and plastic seats installed all around on the terraces.
Kasarani Stadium has been a victim of frequent vandalism, with the plastic seats especially in the lower tier of the sitting area often being plucked off and thrown all over the pitch.
With Nyayo getting a similar seating facelift and the VIP area being glassed all round, there has been fear that the facility will fall victim to easy target during highly volatile matches like the Mashemeji Derby, pitting Leopards and Gor.
“This is a public facility built with public funds and anyone vandalising it is as good as someone stealing money from the public. We will not let that happen,” Okudo told Capital Sport on Monday.
He added: “We have given a stern warning that we will not put up such kind of an investment and leave it just like that.
We will have police presence permanently, not only in Nyayo but also all the others we are putting up and they will be constantly under surveillance.” - Additional information from Capital Sports