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Orapa United beat GU to set up Top 8 date with Rollers

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Orapa United and Township Rollers will meet in the Mascom Top 8 final for the second time in three years after the Ostritches eased 4-1 past a hapless Gaborone United in the second semi final played this Saturday evening at the National Stadium.

Rollers on the other hand reached the final on the away goal rule advantage after they drew 1-1 with Jwaneng Galaxy on Friday night at the same venue. The two had drawn 2-2 in the first leg played in Lobatse, ending the contest with a 3-all draw that sees Rollers go through since they scored more goals away from home. Many had hoped for a dream Gaborone derby in the final of the seventh edition of the tournament but obviously Orapa United had other ideas. Fresh from a 1-0 first leg victory at home a week ago, Orapa only needed a draw to gain passage to the final, but they made sure of the progression by putting fout goals past GU’s goal minder Goitseone Semelamela.

When in the 31st minute Kabelo Seakanyeng converted a penalty for GU, there was hope for a tough contest, but Tendai Nyumasi’s equaliser 8 minutes later dampened the spirits of the Gaborone lads who to win had to then score two more goals with Orapa not responding. But it was never to be as Onkabetse Makgantai scored a second for the Ostritches in the 50th minute. GU were surely left with a mountain to climb and their body language after that goal told a story of a team that had given up on making a comeback. 

Things became even more easier for Daniel Nare’s charges as they utilised the wings with telling effect to punish GU, with Kobamelo Kebaikanye scoring a coffin-nailing brace in the 80th and 88th minute to win the match 4-1. GU coach Rudolf Zapata praised Orapa for playing a great game, saying the Ostritches deserved the win. Nare on the other side said he was surprised at the ease with which they beat GU, saying he had only expected a one-goal gap scoreline.

Orapa’s win means they are making it to the final for the third consecutive year having won it in 2015 against Rollers, then losing it in the 2016 final to Jwaneng Galaxy. Both sides, Rollers and Orapa, will be looking to win the cup for the second time. Gaborone United are the only side to have won the competition twice with Rollers having reached five finals. The final is set for later this month on February 24 at a venue to be confirmed – either the national stadium or the Francistown Sport Complex.

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Well-endowed Galaxy

Isaac Pheko

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FIRE POWER: Galaxy await Rollers

It is only the third week of the 2018/19 BTC Premiership and things are already heating up. Leading the charge is a marauding Jwaneng Galaxy who have already thrown a heavy-handed gauntlet at their rivals after recording a highly impressive 10 goals in just two games.

Galaxy’s intention has been made clear this season after leaving their first two opponents with bloody noses and tails tucked between their legs. The former Mascom Top 8 champions are in a relentless war path with the premier league title on their radar. This weekend, Galaxy host bitter rivals Township Rollers in Jwaneng in what is expected to be a football grudge match. Rollers have been a prickly thorn in Galaxy’s quest to claim the premiership silverware for the past two seasons.

This means the weekend fixture will be the most compelling of the new season. However, Galaxy seem to be packing more heat coming into the Saturday fixture having annihilated both Prisons XI (5-0) and Security Systems (5-0). Galaxy are currently occupying first position alongside second place Sharps Shooting Stars at six points apeice. The game against Popa this weekend will be a litmus test for Galaxy. If the Debswana backed side beats the reigning champions they will establish themselves as potential contenders for the 2018/19 title honours. On the flipside, a loss against Rollers will only mean the first two games were short of a bluff.

Pound for pound Mapalastina have the best squad in the domestic league but a new look Galaxy are well endowed in their own right. In an interview this week, Galaxy spokesperson Tankiso Morake said they played Rollers three times last season and all the games ended in a draw. “Remember we played Rollers in the Mascom Top 8 in Lobatse,” an up-beat Morake said. Morake further said they expected their new coach to receive his permits and start manning the bench when they play Rollers this weekend. “Our supporters have told us that they expected nothing less than league honours this season.” Morake attributes the positive result to a great pre-season.

“You will remember that there was a fake list in the media indicating that we have parted ways with most of our players. You can see that the likes of Ayanda Molefe and Isaac Paeye are still part of the team. There is a lot of competition in our team because we mostly have young players in the team including Lebogang Ditsile who played at Highlands Park in South Africa.” Furthermore, Morake conceded that Rollers are a strong team but argued that they will win the games from the technical bench. “You will remember that we started the last season back tracking but this time things are different.”

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Bridge team fails to impress

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The local team comprised of under 16, under 21 and under 26 categories. In an interview this week, BBF spokesperson Mbakiso Malilo did not mince his words when he described the team’s performance as terrible with all the three teams failing to qualify for the quarter finals.

“Making it to the quarter finals was our target following a good showing in the online championship by our junior team. I believe we can work on improving the playing standard for kids (under 16) as they still stand a chance to compete in the under 21 and under 26 categories for future championships,” he said.

However, Malilo explained that the local youth team gained a lot of experience as the played against more advanced rivals. Quizzed on challenges they faced with a predominantly youthful team, Malilo said: “the trip was too long and for most of the players this was their first experienced of travelling such a great distance. The jet lag ended up affecting the team’s performance as they showed signs of fatigue.” Malilo said their objective was to train young players and give them exposure to the game early on.

“We managed to network with bridge power houses like the Netherlands. Official from the European country expressed interest in training our kids through bridge clinics and enhancing the standard of play and bidding.” Malilo said they selected the junior team that travelled to China through local tournament that was held in Gaborone earlier this year. The tournament was attend by mostly tertiary school students and out of school youth in the junior and youngsters’ category. For the under 16 category we invited student from secondary schools.

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