A week ago Rollers faced the predicament of advancing to the quarterfinals of the lucrative Coca-Cola Cup when they faced tricky Stone Breakers. Rollers ended up winning the game by a goal, and now they face another uphill battle of advancing to the semi-finals when they engage reigning Mascom Premier League champions Ecco City Green, writes Tshepho Bogosing.
The draw for the quarterfinals of the Coca-Cola cup looks to have given Township Rollers head aches compared to all other teams. Rollers have been pitted against defending Mascom Premier League champions, Ecco City Greens.
Although Ecco City might not have defeated Township Rollers since their promotion to the elite league three seasons ago, it is not a guarantee that Rollers will defeat them. Ecco, on the other hand, have only lost their defender, Bosarutweng Magola, to Gaborone United (GU) and have retained all their players. Ecco also have not won the tournament and would want to break the barrier. The furthest they have been in the tournament was the semifinals in 2003 when they were still in the First Division. Rollers, on the other hand, are also under immense pressure to prove that they are really Kings of the Coca Cola Cup. Since the inauguration of the tournament in 1992 Rollers are the only team to have won the tournament for a record four times. The other teams are recently promoted Mogoditshane Fighters Notwane that has won it thrice each.
Rollers were on course to win the tournament for a record fifth time last year but a boardroom decision denied them the opportunity. They were supposed to meet Notwane in the finals after defeating BDF XI 3-0. Then BDF XI striker, who has since decamped to Rollers, Bernard Simakwenzi, did not play in the game because it was alleged that he was a defaulter. BDF XI appealed and a replay was ordered but Rollers did not honour the fixture and the former were given a passage to the finals. The failure by Rollers was even a painful experience for the retired Mmoni ‘States’ Segopolo. Segopolo wanted to use the game as his swansong but he could not. Had he played he would have played in all Coca-Cola finals Rollers featured in since 1993. Nevertheless, Segopolo is still the Coca-Cola record holder with four gold medals.
Information reaching Sunday Standard indicates that Rollers are taking the game seriously and do not want to leave any stone unturned. Immediately after the draw, Rollers management called an impromptu meeting plotting for Ecco City’s downfall. Rollers are the team that is leading in the transfer market. They have assembled a powerful arsenal which Ecco City must be concerned with. They have taken three influential BMC players, Mmusa Ohilwe, Tumisang Sekanonyane and Edwin Moalosi. Tasc’s powerful left backer Ernest Amos is also reported on his way to the Blues together with another Chiefs Under 23 international, Boniface Makolo.
Rollers Public Relations Officer, Kaizer Sekaba, made it clear that they want to go all the way to the finals and ultimately win the tournament. But he said they are taking the game against Ecco City seriously.
“Ecco City Green are the champions of the Mascom Premier League and have good players who can upset any team. Even though league games are different from tournament ones, Ecco City are our threat to win the Coca-Cola Cup for the second time in three years. The fact that they have never defeated us since their promotion to the Premier League counts for nothing because records are made to be broken. But as Township Rollers, we will try by all means to be victorious on the day,” he said.
Rollers will play their game on August 9 after the arrival of six of their international players who will be traveling to China today (Sunday) for the Four Nations Tournament.
In other games Gaborone United will battle it out with newly promoted Boteti Young Fighters. In 2005, Boteti reached the semi-finals where they were knocked out by the eventual winners, Township Rollers. Notwane will be looking to catch up with Rollers record by winning the tournament for the fourth time when they engage Tasc. Chiefs on the other hand will also want to make history by winning the tournament for the first time in their history when they battle it out with limping BMC.
Other teams will battle it out next weekend.