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Top 8 fever hits Ghetto

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The Francistown Sports Complex is expected to attract over 20 000 spectators during the Mascom Top 8 Final on 3rd March. The Top 7th edition final will be played at the twenty-six thousand seater facility for the third consecutive time when the popular Township Rollers collide with Orapa United .The facility is the largest sports venue in the country, attracted over 15 000 spectators when Jwaneng Galaxy beat Orapa United 4-3 in last year’s Top 8 final. The modern facility boast of an impressive pitch and an electric atmosphere during high profile games like the Top 8 final. In recent years, the facility has hosted thrilling matches that often conclude in a nail biting fashion. The final game will be the third consecutive final to be hosted at the city of Francistown.

The first final was between Orapa United and Township Rollers in the 2015/2016 edition in which Orapa United pulled a major upset against Popa. Once again, the facility located in the Madzibalori area of Francistown has beat the archaic National Stadium in Gaborone to host the Tse di Tona tournament decider. Speaking at a Press Conference on Tuesday the Mascom Top 8 Local Organizing committee chairman Moreo Modisenyane said the near 30 000 seating capacity of the facility was one of the factors that led to their decision.

With the drought of top-flight football having hit hard on Francistown over the years Modisenyane said they had to bring football to the people. “We decided to give this final to the Francistown Community, we haven’t hosted any Mascom Top 8 game in Francistown so we give the Francistown community this final clash.” Moreover, the last Mascom Top 8 final attracted over 15 000 spectators and this year 5000 more are expected to throng the Francistown Stadium.

“Rollers are undoubtedly the most popular team in the country and we know Orapa can also pull a crowd so we expect nothing less than twenty thousand, I am putting my head on the block and saying we are going to exceed the 20 000 mark,” said Modisenyane. In attempts to pull a massive crowd they will be abridged prices for the first 500 spectators who will buy the Nswazi Stand (Eastern) tickets, which cost P40, will get a P10 discount, the tickets price will be condensed to P30. For the northern and southern stands the ticket’s that cost P30 will be reduced to P20.

“We want to reward the early bird’s spectators so this reward period will go on from the 19th to 26th of February. After the 26th the prices will be back to normal prices even if we don’t reach that 500 spectators,” Botswana Premier League (BPL) CEO Thabo Ntshinogang said during the press conference. Security will be improved once more, “we had deployed a 120 security officers and forty police men in the last final. Around 60 security officers were based inside the stadium and another 60 were outside . We are hoping to increase the numbers for the safe guarding of property and spectators.”

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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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