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Matebele target Popa runaway train

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The undefeated beMOBILE premiership 2015/16 championship frontrunners – Township Rollers – will be in a tricky affair this Saturday when they face BDF XI at the Molepolole Sports Complex.

‘Matebele a Mantsho,’ as BDF are popularly known will relish the chance of being the first team to beat the undefeated Rollers in a league fixture when the two meet this weekend. In past seasons Popa Popa have been known to start well early in the season only to run out of steam by the second round. However, the MmaMasire glamour boys seem to be an unstoppable force this season.

Only Police XI have been able to beat Rollers 1-0 during the Mascom Top 8 second fixture at the Molepolole sports complex. After the shock defeat, Rollers headcoach Mark Harrison complained that his charges had lost focus following a 4-2 first leg win against the   Jungle Kings. Harrison added that Rollers’ first and only defeat of the season was because his charges had become complacent due to previous success.

Meanwhile, Rollers travelled to Itekeng stadium over the weekend in what was deemed to be a tough game against Orapa United. Yet again Popa came out of Itekeng stadium unscathed after a goalless draw. This begs the question on whether anybody can beat Popa this season.

Nonetheless, BDF XI will come into the match as underdogs, but they may be one of the only three teams that could realistically pull an upset on the runaway Popa steam train. Currently Popa are elevated in the rarefied atmosphere with an impressive 37 points while BDF are   fourth with 29 points and only four defeats.

However, Popa still run like a well-oiled machine despite being in the second round of the season. Harrison seems to have found a winning formula that has consistently worked against tough opposition. The BDF defence will have a lot to deal with, considering Rollers attack that features Carl Finnigan, Jerome Louis, Jerome Ramatlhakwane, Sekhana Koko, Joel Mogorosi and Maano Ditshupo. On the flipside Matebele will have to be spot on defensively and take scoring chances earlier.

This will allow them to hold Mapalastina later on. BDF headcoach Beston Chambesi will rely heavily on reliable star strikers Patrick Kaunda and Keeagile Kobe. Still on attack BDF will need the services of Ofentse Mmipi and Mosha Gaolaolwe, while goal poacher Mwampule Masule will come against his former team.

Meanwhile, Frida’s beMOBILE fixture will feature FC Satmos vs. Orapa United (Selibi Phikwe), BR Highlander vs. Mochudi Centre Chiefs (Serowe). On Saturday Gaborone United will take on Gilport Lions (National Stadium), Nico United vs. Green Lovers (Selibi Phikwe), Extension Gunners vs. Sankoyo Bush Bucks (Lobatse), Miscelleneous vs. Motlakase Power Dynamos. The only fixture on Sunday will be Galaxy FC vs Police IX.

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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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