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TOP 8: THE RETURN

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Orapa United have their sights squarely on the 2015/16 Mascom Top 8 trophy, and as they invade Extension Gunners’ territory this Friday at the National Stadium for their second leg of the quarter final encounter, nothing but victory will satisfy their ambitious plans.

The two sides played to a one-all draw in the first leg encounter played at the Itekeng Stadium in Orapa three weeks ago. Of all the eight teams competing for the P1 200 000 prize money after only five games, it is the Ostriches of Orapa who are the hungrier for success as also seen in their league performance.

Ever since arriving in the premier league some three seasons back, the Ostriches have gone from strength to strength, and in the process pulled upset after upset over bigger rivals already accustomed with premiership life for years – Gunners included. As things stand, Orapa United know that they stand a better chance of winning their first trophy in the form of the Mascom Top 8 than with the marathon full year league competition that demands stamina and enduring consistency.

Label them ‘dark horses’ or ‘wild card’ at your own peril, the Ostriches are in for the kill, and their previous impressive results against the big guns of the elite league can attest to their credentials as potent challengers to the ‘Tse Di Tona’ title. Owing to the previous upsets they have meted on the teams in this competition, they actually have a realistic chance of winning the lucrative cup. Their first hurdle to this cup glory comes in the form of Gunners whose plummeting form will be very encouraging to the team from the diamond mining town.

When the two meet, the Ostriches who once again have been on scintillating form once this season, will deploy their entire attacking prowess to overwhelm a vulnerable Gunners who have not known victory for time immemorial now. Internal strife at the Lobatse outfit has not been helpful to the metal state of the players and United may need little resources to push them aside the scoring ability of Thabang Sesinyi as well as the experience of both Patrick Lenyeletse and Patrick Motsepe. Besides, the Orapa lads this time have yet another ace up their sleeves in the form of   multiple championship winning headcoach Madinda Ndlovu.

The Zimbabwean coach knows a lot about winning championships, albeit with big clubs. Ndlovu’s storied career in Botswana has seen him coach big clubs like Mochudi Centre Chiefs and Township Rollers to championship glory and such experience may also be enough to see his Ostriches go easily past the Gunners who are clearly out of sorts lately. With his eyes set on the gratification of carrying his winning exploits to a relatively new team, Ndlovu most likely employ an attacking formation to breach the somewhat miserly Mapantsula defence that despite their string of losses, has given away very little.
The Ostriches’ spokesperson Tebalo Hule made it clear that his team was in the Top 8 to win the coveted trophy and not just to participate. “We believe we have the right squad for the job and we   have no pressure at all. We have played against most of the teams in the tournament and we have done well in the encounters, thus our confidence,” he said.

Hule attributed the team’s recent good run and success to good administration. “We try by all means to be organised and make sure that the teams’ welfare is taken care of, including both transport and accommodation.”also, Hule said the team’s support base has grown tremendously as they manage to fill up their home stadium whenever they host games. “The support base is important for motivating the players, we hope to see them fill up the away stadium when we play Gunners.”

Gunners on the other hand might just find themselves in a pleasant moment to turn their fortunes around, and the Ostriches are better warned to tread with care as wounded predators are often the most dangerous. The players at the Lobatse outfit may also be extra-motivated by knowing what is at stake as their club has been struggling to pay them. Veteran coach Daniel ‘Chico’ Nare recently replaced former headcoach Keitumetse ‘Pio’ Paul and he is still looking for his first victory at the club although a goalless draw will be enough to see his Gunners proceed to the semi-finals on the away–goal rule.

The match will herald the start of an eventful weekend where on Saturday another second leg quarter final match will see BDF XI will take on Gaborone United at the Molepolole Sports Complex. Matebele come into the game with a 1-0 advantage that could see them send the defending champions down the exit door. The third quarter final encounter pits Township Rollers with Police XI at the Molepolole Sports Complex on Sunday. Rollers won the first leg in An awesome 4-2 comeback thriller following the cops’ early 2-0 lead. The stage concludes on Monday evening, still at the Molepolole Sports Complex, where Mochudi Centre Chiefs will take on Gilport Lions.

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Makwengwe promises fire and fury

Isaac Pheko

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ON A MISSION: Makwengwe

Gaborone United (GU)headcoach Philimon Makwengwe has sent a chilling message to his future opponents following a 0-1 loss to reigning BTC Premiership champions Township Rollers this past weekend.

A buoyant Makwengwe who is searching for at least two hungry strikers at GU declared that there will be nothing but misery in store for his future opponents. Following the closely contested Gaborone derby Makwengwe said:

“I have to improve in attack, I am not scoring goals, and I need to change my position on the log. I know the buzz was around the Gaborone Derby but that was never my concern. My team is currently in the red and I needed the points. I have to get out of the red and attacking my opponents is necessary”.

The unrelenting coach made it clear that Moyagoleele should not perform below their showing against Rollers last weekend. Makwengwe said the Money Machine will need to be “attack minded” in their next fixtures.

“What people should know is that Township Rollers have beaten me three times. They beat me twice back in 2012 during the Mascom Top 8. That was not the last time as they defeated me again at Prisons Airwick means this is now the fourth time.

The local tactician said losses to the Mma-Masire outfit should be a wake-up call for him. Nevertheless, Makwengwe said Rollers are the champions and one of the best teams not only in the country but the rest of the region.

“This is a team that gives a good brand of Botswana football. I am a champion myself, I am not a loser but I cannot beat Rollers alone.” Regarding the rest of the first round, Makwengwe said they will hit the ground running, I have no time to lament on negatives, I will not bemoan so many things.

My next opponents should stand in line and prepare to become victims.” The experienced coach said GU are a big brand and they should move away from where they are in the log standings. Losing 0-1 to a team like Rollers shows that we have to work on consistency.

The coach conceded the fact that he needs to make changes in his squad. I need about eight players including a fast winger on the left, I need a striker or two and these should be real strikers not people who play upfront.

Makwengwe said the current strikers at the team include a local who is a work in progress and a foreigner who is not giving enough to the team.“People want me to hide and I cannot, when you come into this country and you brush aside a local and even the labour law says you have to be better than them(locals), I bet in any profession.

If you want to play a striker for me, work harder.” The coach said he does not have an outright striker, which leaves a gap in the team. “A striker is somebody who pushes and is busy. If he doesn’t score himself, he has to use other players. It doesn’t matter if he is alone against four.”

Makwengwe said he needs two strikers to avoid changing the team too much. “In January, I am going into the market and I am going to buy. My next game is against Miscelleneous and they are coming down. I will have no mercy. Whoever comes I will have no mercy.”

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Old rivals faceoff

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BITTER RIVALS: Notwane Head coach Pio Paul

Notwane Football Club (Sechaba) and Mochudi Centre Chiefs (Magosi), are to battle it out in a potentially massive encounter as both clubs are coming from draws in their previous matches against Prisons IX and Black Forest respectively.

The clash is scheduled to take place at 4pm this Saturday at Molepolole Sports Complex.Sechaba, as Notwane is affectionately known were relegated back in 2015 while Magosi has been going through a financial crisis that hit the club recently.

Having played 9 games a piece, Notwane FC, currently on the 9th position in the BTC Premiership league log standings have won two, drew four and lost three games whereas Centre Chiefs who are occupying the 12th spot have won one, drew five and lost three games.

In a brief interview with Sun Sport this week, Notwane FC Public Relations Officer (PRO) Mogomotsi ‘Ace’ Orapeleng said, “We are going all out to win this fixture, taking nothing away from Centre Chiefs, we are not going to read much into what they have been going through lately hence our approach to the match will be of ‘great’ respect.

This past weekend we dropped a massive two points which could have made a difference against Prisons IX thus making us more desperate to collect three (3) points in this coming clash with Centre Chiefs,” he said.

Questioned about the anxiety brought by this particular contest he said: “Notwane FC and Mochudi Centre Chiefs are big brands of Botswana football, we are aware of the fact that the personnel have changed; new players, management and even sponsors but the ultimate truth is that these two have great following and most people are anxious to see how the events will turn out on the weekend,” said Orapeleng.

For his part, Mochudi Centre Chiefs Vice-Chairman, Clifford Mogomotsi confirmed their aim is to try and improve their position in the league log standings, “In every match we play, our approach is to always expand our position on the log, regardless of which team we play against. Notwane FC is a fantastic team but we are going to fight until the end to win the match,” said Mogomotsi.

Mogomotsi further pointed out that playing against Notwane FC has always been exulting, “Notwane FC has always given us entertaining football as we almost play a similar style of play,” said the Vice-Chairman.

On the possibility of losing points through the impending verdict after failure to honour their game against Miscellaneous a fortnight ago: “Our date with Botswana Premier League (BPL) Disciplinary Committee (DC) has been set, and we are awaiting that,” he explained.

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