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Rollers, GU renew top 8 rivalry

Publishing Date : 21 January, 2019

Author : MOSIMANEGAPE TSHOSWANE

Judging by the latest form and results, BTC Premiership log leaders Township Rollers side are the least of Gaborone United’s worries as the build-up to the Saturday’s Mascom top 8 fixture gathers pace. Victory against Rollers will take Moyagoleele one step into the finals.


On the other hand, Rollers’ victory against Philemon Makhwengwe will mean they are better positioned and on the verge of another cup title, or to put it better, ready to defend the title. They won it last season, humiliating Orapa United through a 4-0 scoreline. All the while, certain matters of plain fact still gnaw at Gaborone United’s Makhwengwe. His GU side has won only half their away matches in the Premier League and, while that is a far from shameful record, it is a reminder of how simple it can be to fail. But Rollers on the other hand is blowing hot and cold.


A painful thumping last weekend at the hands of Manuel Da Costa’s Jwaneng Galaxy reminded them that they can no longer afford to depend on the “spoken” dominance card, they must live it. The next weekend encounter of Gaborone’s two football giants is however bolstered by other statistics. While Rollers line-up is characterized by several players who are turning into veterans or at least showing signs of wear and tear, these are players who lead the table and are successful in the top8 tournament because they usually respond to a challenge.


They can recall how capable they have been in the grand, set-piece fixtures. Rollers have won all the needed games, but the struggle they always get from Makhwengwe‘s team especially in this tournament should be enough to worry them. Their ability to win all the semifinals they have played confirms how resounding their superiority has been in this cup.


GU has played Rollers in two different editions of Mascom top 8. The first time the two titans meet was in 2013 when GU humbled Rollers 4-1 while the reverse fixture ended in a 1 all draw. The second time was in 2015 finals. Again, GU were victorious by a 2-1 scoreline.  That dominance has exerted pressure and worry on the side of the current log leaders, Township Rollers more than any fear that Chiefs, out of historic spite, will capitulate to GU. Ambivalence, to put it mildly, will be the prevailing mood in the National stadium stands when the game starts but it is hard to imagine Rollers’ players taking care not to try. Fanatical effort, after all, is the principal tone of the Premier League and sides can barely envisage any other means of engaging with one another.


There is no cause to think that the present GU squad will lack integrity against Rollers. With The Blues having put unconvincing results especially after the departure of their award winning coach, Nikola Kavazovic, GU’s biggest hope of winning, perhaps the 3rd match against Rollers in this tournament is not yet vanished but very much alive. If other potential Mascom top 8 contenders have anything to dread against GU, it is simply the fact that Moyagoleele could lack the means to stop Rollers. Last game’s draw against Sankoyo Bush Bucks, a side with worse techniques, demonstrated the sometime decline of GU squad.


Newly recruited midfielder Mothusi Cooper has been brilliant but, understandably, looks worn down by a dependence upon him that became acute especially when Segolame Boy’s form took a nose dive. The under 23 midfield maestro has been nothing but impressive. But the problem is that he has been impressive against sides in the bottom third of the table.


Care-taker coaches, Thabo Motang and Leutwetse Tshireletso will have well understood the danger of looking so often to him, and, in a different fashion, the sidelined Tshepo Motlhabankwe to prop up the club. However, If Rollers prospects next weekend depend on rotating their squad; GU will be full of hope for a productive occasion. Over the years The Reds has waged many a war against the odds but a spectacular effort is now called for on a day when there will be scant reward for such aggression.

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