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Rollers draw Sudanese side

Publishing Date : 18 December, 2017


Premier League defending champions Township Rollers have been pitted against Sudanese side, Al-Merrikh Sporting Club in the CAF Competitions set to commence in January next year. The draw was conducted on Wednesday.

The two clubs are expected to battle it out on a two legged affair where the aggregate winner will proceed to the group stages.  Rollers are seeking to rewrite the history of modern premier league era and become the first team to go past preliminary rounds and enter the often difficult phase of group stages. The last team to play in the group stages in Botswana was Notwane Football club, now playing in the lower tier. The first leg is expected to be played in Gaborone with the second leg to be played at Sudan two weeks later.

Al Merrikh are obviously a closed book for Township Rollers to read, but their history in CAF championship has everything to rattle the Jagdish Shah funded project. Unlike Township Rollers, the Sudanese club has palyed in the group stages of the competition before. In 2016, they were eliminated in the second round, and in 2013, they went as far as the semi finals.

On one hand Rollers are aware of the monkey on their back. While time and again, the team complains of adverse conditions of African continent coupled with the ballooning budget in order to dominate, they know that to proceed to the next round is not child’s play.  In the last two trials, Rollers could not go round the preliminary stage as they were condemned by South African power house Kaizer Chiefs before CNAPS, a club from Madagascar threw them out of the competition the following year.

More often than not, championship football tells a story about the performance of a country on the global stage and also paints a picture of competitiveness about respective elite leagues.  The Sudanese team has dominated their league over the last few years, and records show that Al Merrikh has won the Sudanese league 16 times.  Rollers, on this regard come close to matching their counterparts. Records show that they have 13 premier league titles and are the only team in this country to ever reach this feat.

As from January, Rollers coach Nikola Kavazovic should accept that the club’s season will be on a more fragile ground. In the same month, the team will be awaiting the Mascom Top 8 draw semi final, where any team could prove dangerous.  The month will be a tough one for the team and has all the potential to either make or break their campaign with three competitions

‘The Blues’ have been invariably derailed when a cluster of high profile games with different honours at stake, put hurdles in their path. This is precisely why previous coaches understood why there were doubts about whether they could overcome the tendency to implode.



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