Spectators at the season’s opening Mascom Top 8 tournament match between Orapa United and Extension Gunners were treated to a very technical game as the two teams played to a one all draw in what was a game of two halves. While the game was not aesthetically pleasing to the eye, it gave spectators a glimpse into the technical acumen of the teams’ two gaffers. While Gunners opened the scores midway through the first half, courtesy of Pako Gaofose, spectators were left frustrated as the two teams cancelled each other out in the second half.
It took a 29th minute moment of brilliance for the fans to see a goal thanks to Tshegofatso Chimuku’s individual brilliance. The diminutive player, who was the liveliest on the park, collected a ball close to the centre line and left his markers for dead before threading a defence splitting pass to Gaofose, who cooly converted to give Gunners a lead. The goal would prove the only difference when the two teams went to recess. From the break, it was Orapa who played with more impetus as they went in search of an equaliser but they could not breach the Gunners’ defence. Orapa then rung changes as coach Madinda Ndlovu replaced Mungabe with Sibanda before Sesinyi, who had had a quiet game by his standards, made way for Maswena. The substitutions gave Orapa more zest as they continued to pile pressure on their opponents and they nearly pulled level, only for Molebatsi’s goal bound shot to ricochet off the crossbar.
The Ostriches would however reap the rewards of their constant raids a few minutes later when Gunners keeper scuffed his attempted fisted clearance, and the ball found its way to Mccini Sibanda. The midfielder made no mistake as he finished with aplomb to draw his team level. Despite creating a couple of chances, Orapa could however not find a winner as the two teams settled for a draw. While the one all draw left Orapa yet to lose at home this season, it however left them with all to do in the second leg as Gunners, who will be home, have an away goal advantage. Speaking in his post match interview, Gunners coach Daniel Nare described the game between the two as very technical, though not pleasant on the eye. “I don’t think it was a good game for the eye to see, but I think tactically it was a good game because it was a chess match, we were chasing each other,” Nare opined. He said having watched Ndlovu’s past approach to the game, as well as Gunners’ current form, he opted to break his counterpart’s approach and stifle supply to his three players upfront. Nare however said tactically, he was proud of his team’s performance and was happy with the results.
For his part, Ndlovu said it was obvious from the onset that Gunners had come with a good game plan. “You have to give credit to Gunners. They came with a really good game plan in the first half and for me to come back and get a draw is a good result,” Ndlovu said. The Ostriches gaffer further pointed out that what made him even more happy was the fact that while his team did not play well in the first half, he was however pleased with the way his team played in the second half. “In the second half, we managed to rectify our problems and play our game. We were unfortunate that we couldn’t get the winning goal,” Ndlovu explained. Meanwhile, the Orapa United coach is adamant his team is still not out of Mascom Top 8 contention despite Gunners’ away goal advantage. He said going into the second leg, his team will be going all out to win and make it into the next round.
Orapa United: Mosimanegape Robert, Kealeboga Molebatsi, Patrick Motsepe, Olekantse Mambo, Kabo Mungabe, Thabang Sesinyi, Lesenya Ramoraka, Mgcini Sibanda, Thabang Mosige, Ronald Chikomo, Patrick Lenyeletse
Extension Gunners: Kelame Tladinyane, Katlego Mothibi, Boitumelo Modisaotsile, Mosimanegape Ntwaetsile, Desire Bafana, Kemmy Pilato, Amos Godirwang, Kelelelo Kgosimore, Moemedi Moatlhaping, Pako Gaofose, Tshegofatso Chimuku.