Monday, July 15, 2024

Coca Cola Cup: 19 years old and still going strong

For years in Botswana, there have been several tournaments that ran temporarily only to vanish.
Others just came for a few years while others for just a year.

When the Coca-Cola tournament came into play, many thought it would just be like others that did not stay around for long.

But the tournament has stood the test of time since its launch in 1992 and has grown from strength to strength.

It all started when Lobatse giants, Extension Gunners, locked horns with Francistown side, Tafic.
Gunners won the inaugural tournament 3-2 in a tense match. At the time, Gunners had deadly ammunition in the team; there were the likes of Kenneth Jere, Francis Chisenga, Edison Mulubwa, Tumie Duiker and Tebogo Motswagae.

The same year, Gunners also won the league championships and would defend it for another two years.
The next four editions of the Coca-Cola Cup saw the dominance of Township Rollers.

Rollers won it in 1993, 94 and 96 and missed it in 1995 when it went to Notwane.

The 1993 finals was one of the biggest matches of the tournament as Rollers played their hoodoos, Gaborone United (GU).

At the time, GU was known as the ‘money machine’ as they won most tournaments on offer and was seen as the favourites.

GU played well in the first half but lost it towards the end when Rollers eventually won 4-1.
The 1994 finals pitted Rollers against Gunners and Rollers managed to win 2-0.

The years 1995 and 1996 saw institutional teams making their mark as they appeared in the finals.
BDF XI became the first to reach the 1995 finals against Notwane while BMC did it the following year against Rollers.

Notwane then had very enterprising players like Thazo Tiwayi, Robo Khonzaphi and the deadly foreign trio of Fubian Zulu, Maybin Chama and the late Madonsela Shono Ngaka.

In 1996 BMC introduced talent of players such as Jones Mfakose, Buti Kgodungwe, Jack Gotlop, Collen Zulu and Leornard Msinabgwa but Rollers were too heavy for them as they scored two goals.

In 1997 Notwane came into the picture again as they walloped Mokgosi Young Fighters 2-0.
Mokgosi became the first team to reach the finals while still campaigning in the first division and were then coached by veteran Ezekiel Mpofu.

Lack of experience cost them as Notwane won 2-0.

In the years 1998 to 2003, institutional teams, ruled the roost.

In 1998 BDF XI defeated by the spirited Jwaneng Comets who won by a solitary goal.
Some of the players that actually helped Jwaneng Comets to make it to the finals are the likes of Kennedy Machiya, Emmanuel Bentu and Segolame Mogapi.

The following year saw the emergence of Mogoditshane Fighters under Major David Bright.
Fighters would be a thorn in the flesh for years to come, defeating the then new kid on the block, FC Satmos from Selibe Phikwe.

Some of the players that did a job for Bright in 1999 included Kennedy Sakala, Modesto Chilundumene, Mpho Mabogo and Thapelo ‘Dunga’ Tlhobogang.

Satmos, on the other hand, had a crop of raw talent. Some of those players were Tiroyamodimo Mohambi, Mogolodi Chepete, Kagiso Tshelametsi and Botlhe Bolofete.

Fighters would win it again in 2000 but the following year it was Francistown side Tasc that took the trophy.

In 2002, the tournament remained in Francistown for two consecutive years, a first, as Tafic enjoyed dominance.

In 2003 Fighters’ Mompati Banda’s goal was enough to defeat Rollers who were then campaigning in the First Division.

In 2004 it was an institutional affair between BDF XI and Fighters and the former won by two goals.
Fresh from the First Division, Rollers beat BD XI 3-1 in 2005 and would also double it up with the league championship.

The following year, Notwane defeated BDF XI 2-1.

2007 saw “the meat affair”, as BMC and Ecco City locked horns. Ecco ended up winning 5-4 after a penalty shootout.

In 2008, Mochudi Centre Chiefs came into the foray and thrashed youthful Uniao Flamengo Santos 5-2. They would go on and win the league championship.

In 2009 Santos would go back to the drawing boards and regroup. They reached the finals and defeated BDF XI 4-2 after a penalty shoot out, following a one all draw during regulation time.
Last year Rollers defeated their current number one enemies, Chiefs, 3-1 after extra time.
This year it remains to be seen as to who exactly is going to emerge victorious because the tournament has already reached an interesting stage.


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