The opening round of Mascom Top 8 Cup provided football fanatics with some exciting games which left them asking for more.
However the games did not go without controversy as some of the referees’ decisions left a bitter pill to swallow for some sections of supporters. The four sides which have left in the competition being defending champions Gaborone United, Township Rollers, BDF XI and Nico United know that it will take hard work to lift the P1 million Pula trophy.
While the second semi-final between BDF XI and Nico United has the potential to leave thousands of soccer fanatics on the edge of their seats, it is the crunch game between Gaborone United (GU) and Township Rollers which has already sent tongues wagging.
On their way to lift the trophy last season, GU crashed Mapalastina out of the tournament something which has added more spark to the clash. In their last league fixture which was played at UB Stadium earlier in the season, both sides provided soccer fanatics with a nail-biting display.
GU forced a late 1-1 draw with Rollers’ supporters already in their feet singing praise songs. With the semis penciled for sometime in the new year, it is possible that both sides would have signed new players who will add some flavour to the fixture.
In their quarterfinals, GU proceeded to the semis through a 6-2 aggregate over ECCO City Greens. Rollers had to sweat their blood to see of a challenge from bitter rivals Mochudi Centre Chiefs on an away goal rule. In the first leg, Popa beat Chiefs 3-2 before losing the second leg 2-1 at home. It is a game which left Chiefs’ supporters crying foul as they felt that referee Joshua Bondo robbed them by awarding Mapalastina a late penalty which ensured their place in the semis.
Former Rollers’ captain Mmoni ‘States’ Segopolo said that it is going to be difficult for both sides in the two-legged semis. GU play at home first before travelling to their traditional rivals in the return leg. “Rollers won the first edition of Mascom Top 8 and they eliminated GU on their way to lifting the title.
GU did the same in the last edition eliminating Popa. There will be a lot at stake in the coming semis so it will be interesting to see which of the two sides reach the final,” said Segopolo. The former Rollers’ hitman said Mapalastina have improved tremendously in recent times under the tutelage of Madinda Ndlovu.
“I think the players have started to know and understand the coaching methods of Madinda. They look dangerous but that does not mean it will be an easy game. GU have also shown signs of improvement and have a quality squad,” Segopolo pointed out. The organizers of the tournament are expected to announce the dates and venues of the semis tomorrow.