It’s that time of the year again when local football supporters embark on an annual pilgrimage to the Francistown Sports Complex where two deserving teams will take centre stage during the Mascom Top 8 Final. Both Gaborone United (GU)and Jwaneng Galaxy return to the finals, the former looking to win an astounding third title while Galaxy will be in search of their second title in three years.
Despite GU or the Money Machine as it is known sitting on position 7th on the BTC Premiership Table, they are tipped as the favourites to win this prestigious trophy. With a wealth of experience in the team and their big match temperament, GU can go all the way and write the history books by being the first club to win three Mascom Top 8 titles.
Gaborone United gaffer Philemon Makhwengwe will have to be up to his best, saturated with smart tactics and soothing combinations of play, with industrious players like Jerome Ramatlhakwana, Dirang Moloi, Gaopatwe Seosenyeng, Thatayaone Kgamanyane and Goitseone Phoko guarding the sticks. Makhwengwe is likely to pack his rich midfield with the likes of Rentse Keakabetse, captain Alphonse Modisaotsile, Obonywe Maome and Gaopatwe Seosenyeng to kill the mobility of Jwaneng Galaxy and limit spaces behind the defense.
Dirang Moloi and Thatayone Kgamayane are expected to play behind Jerome Ramatlhakwane as supporting strikers as Makhwengwe will also enjoy adding for power in his attack, the two players are expected to put through Ramatlhakwana, whose goal scoring prowess is second to none. On the other hand, Jwaneng Galaxy is a club enjoying a very good run of form, the Jwaneng based outfits are currently challenging for BTC Premiership honors and the Mascom Top 8 title; as things stand they will not be a walk in the park.
Miguel Da Costa will carry his troops to battle on Saturday night and will definitely bring his finest mind to the game, his unsurpassed tactics will also boil down in the technical area, the coach has proven to be an all-out attacker with a cautious mindset so expectation are he will have Lebogang Ditsele guarding and working closely to the four men defense while the pondering captain Olebogeng Malebye is unleashed for attacking and defending duties.
Galaxy will depend on Gilbert Baruti and Thero Setsile to unlock the GU defensive line with skill and pace on the flanks, should the two not be up to task Gift Moyo can always come on to rescue the day. Patrick Kaunda will have to be on his toes holding the ball for the oncoming attackers and fending off defenders every moment.
Tebogo Sembowa remains to be a lucky charm in the tournament having played four finals and winning them all, Galaxy will count him as their lucky charm as the player looks to add his fifth Mascom Top 8 medal this weekend. One player that Galaxy will pin their hopes on is the lanky short stopper, Ezikiel Morake who has enjoyed his game in this tournament.
Morake is capable of winning the game for his side, with his admirable reflexes and his ability to make key long ball passes to his strikers. Morake can also be vital when his defense is caught napping, the goal minder is a one on one specialist who knows how to spread his body when facing a striker.
FUROR OVER BPL FIXTURES
The BTC Premiership league was this Tuesday thrown into chaos over a fixture between reigning champions Township Rollers and Serowe’s Miscellaneous scheduled for Gaborone.
By Tuesday evening, Miscellaneous Football Club (FC) were still over 370km away in Serowe ahead of their scheduled game against Township Rollers in the Capital city at 1900hrs. By press time, Miscellaneous had confirmed that they would not be honoring their game against Rollers, decrying lack of funds to finance the cross-country trip to Gaborone. The Serowe outfit argued that the fixture was on short notice, which was unfair on their part. According to the Club spokesperson Edwin Ntau, they could not acquire funds for the doomed trip. “If we do arrive in Gaborone on Tuesday evening, that game will be a disaster because we are not ready for it. Botswana Premier League (BPL) is not serious and insulting the sponsor, “a seething Ntau said before cancelling the trip.
Earlier on Tuesday Miscellaneous expressed unhappiness with the Botswana Premier League (BPL) over the change of fixtures last week Thursday. Initially, Miscellaneous says it was to play Notwane in Serowe but to their greatest shock they were suddenly pitted against the defending champions, Rollers in Gaborone. They had now lost home ground advantage and had to travel all the way to Gaborone for the difficult encounter. Ntau questioned the judgement fairness of the BPL following the surprising turn of events.
Ntau claims that they saw the amendments of fixtures communicated on social media and when they questioned BPL CEO, Thabo Ntshinogang and his team, they were assured that they will play Notwane at Serowe Sports Complex. “We were shocked that on Monday the same fixtures of us playing Rollers were still circulating around and when we wrote to BPL, we were told to honour the Tuesday game or there would be consequences,” Ntau said.
Playing Rollers in Gaborone would have meant Miscelleneous played three away games in a row, a sequence of events that would definitely hurt their pockets.Rollers on the other hand, through the club spokesperson, Bafana Pheto said they were equally shocked and not at all happy with BPL. “When we plan, we plan for a certain team and it does not help that nobody is telling us what necessitated the need to change the fixtures,” a baffled Pheto said this week.
It is not clear why the Gaborone United and Rollers game had to be changed from all the games that had to be played in week 23. “Why us, what reasons are there to change the game, we were supposed to play Miscellaneous in Week 30, why drag it to week 23,” he questioned.
Notwane FC chairman, Phillip Tiroyamodimo also said that they wrote back to BPL questioning why they had to change the team they were supposed to play and not only the dates as with other teams but BPL has not bothered to respond. For his part, Boitumelo Nsunge, Chairman of Gaborone United said that they returned from the Mascom Top 8 finals knowing well that they are playing Rollers and were surprised to be given a letter this past Monday instructing them to play Notwane on Thursday.
When responding to the matter, Ntshinogang said that according to their ‘amended’ fixtures, Gaborone United and Township Rollers were not scheduled in week 23. With that, they had to slot them in week 23 given that the senior national team has to prepare for the CAF African Championship of Nations (CHAN) tournament to be played next weekend. With that, there will be no league games played this coming weekend.
However, it remains unclear as to why all the four teams appear to have a copy of fixtures totally different from that of BPL. While Ntshinogang said GU and Rollers had no schedule in week 23, majority believe that GU was to play Rollers and Miscellaneous against Notwane. Ntshinogang went on to say that all clubs were informed of the changes last week Thursday and they expect Miscellaneous to honour the Tuesday game.
CENTRE CHIEFS FIGHTING FOR SURVIVAL
Tonight at Molepolole Sports Complex, Mochudi Centre Chiefs (MCC) will be given another chance to prove if they have successfully pulled out of the BTC Premiership league relegation zone.
Following months of the relegation threat, the Kgatleng giants managed a limp out of the hot zone a week ago when they collected maximum points against BDF XI.When they play BR Highlanders under floodlights tonight, MCC will need to make a statement; whether they are still skating on thin ice or if the dark clouds have cleared. With only eight games left before the season ends, there is no telling what the future holds for MCC.
While a few years ago, MCC had established themselves as premier league giants and arch rivals to defending champions, Township Rollers, dwindling fortunes have since been causing anxiety at MCC. Even relative league newcomers have come out to humiliate the once mighty Chiefs. Magosi are expected to trot into today’s match without a head coach but instead team General Manager, Jalal Zaahid has been asked to step in temporarily.
This comes after the caretaker coach, Itumeleng Duiker was informed by team management that he will not be coach but can only be on the bench. It is still not yet clear if the new coach will ever come given that the 2018/2019 season is nearing a conclusion. However, the club chairman Raymond Tsheko has since made assurances that the new coach is on his way. Meanwhile, Mahalapye outfit BR Highlanders, is in no position to pull out the sympathy card as they cannot afford to be comfortable, only six points separates them from 13th placed MCC. BR Highlanders, Coach Blessing Moyo knows better that he cannot afford to return to the dusty grounds when he was only promoted this season.
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