Mochudi Centre chiefs’ historic title aspirations were dealt a knock following their one all draw with struggling Police XI at Otse Police College on Friday. Many Centre Chiefs supporters who thronged the stadium were disappointed by the stalemate because they thought their team would stretch the lead against their near rivals, Ecco City Green. The draw has now taken Centre Chiefs to 33 points and means that some teams that are below Chiefs might close in on them.
Chiefs trotted onto the field in high mood and could have wrapped up the game early if it was not for their complacency. Chiefs misused many golden scoring opportunities, especially in the second half. Credit must, however, go to Police XI who absorbed Chiefs pressure from the word go until the final whistle. Police even went to the extent of silencing Chiefs’ supporters early in the first half when they took the lead. Chiefs were on a rampage but Police managed a counter attack that saw Dennis Kaelo rifling with a powerful shot. The 25th minute goal left Chiefs goalie, Noah Maposa, sprawling on the turf as the ball sailed into the upright corner.
After the goal, Chiefs insurgency into Police XI territory continued, but on form Police XI goalkeeper and towering defender, Tebogo Tshuma, were always there to rescue their team. Just 15 minutes before the end of the first half, Chiefs equalised after a bit of concentration lapse by the Police XI defence. Man of the moment, Jerome Ramatlhakwane, received the ball in the middle of Police XI defenders. Ramatlhakwane controlled and easily slotted into the net, sending Chiefs fans into wild celebrations.
The second half belonged to Chiefs as they created many chances. But Pontsho Moloi, Keaketswe Moloi, and Ramatlhakwane were very wasteful. Zambian international, Aaron Kale, did a lot of damage in the midfield but the trio let him down.
The results were good news for Police XI, who, of late, have been losing game after game. Just last week, they lost to Nico United by two goals to nil in Selibe Phikwe. One wonders if they will be able to defend their title since they are languishing in the middle of the table.
Police captain, Therisanyo ‘Tshutshu’ Haake, attributes fatigue for his team’s dismal performance. He told The Sunday Standard that last season they played spiritedly and fatigue is now affecting the team. He added that what was aggravating the problem was the fact that the team does not have depth like other teams. This, he said, results in the same players being fielded even when they are off form.
“Lack of depth is costing us a lot. If one player is out with injury, you can easily see that something is missing. But I am hopeful the management is working on that and sooner, the results will come our way. I think we have already started reorganising ourselves with our draw against Centre Chiefs. They have been unstoppable in most of their recent games but we managed to match them today. I think in the second round, most teams must watch out for us,” he said.
Haake, who has been instrumental in the Police midfield for the past fourteen years, believes their draw against Chiefs would also boast their morale for their upcoming Confederation of African Football champions’ match. Police will play against a Democratic Republic of Congo side in February.
Police coach, Sthandwa Mogwadi, was also pleased with the outcome, saying his players played according to his instructions, and blocked all Chiefs dangerous positions. He also added that if it was not for concentration lapses towards the end of the first half, they could have long wrapped up the game.
Even Chiefs assistant coach, Daniel Nare, applauded Police for a splendid performance. He, however, said the team would regroup and fight for honours since they still have a bigger chance of winning the league for the first time in their history.