Mogoditshane Fighters produced a gutsy performance to stun favourites Mochudi Centre Chiefs 3 – 1 in a Mascom Top 8 game played at the Molepolole Sports Complex on Sunday.
The win means Fighters will now have an advantage when the two teams meet again in the second leg in a fortnight. With all the big guns having won their encounters, Chiefs’ defeat at the hands of Fighters proved to be the first major upset of the weekend.
In a match that was by far the pick of the weekend and could have swung either way, it was Magosi (Chiefs) who started well, forcing Fighters to concede a corner within the first minute of the game after Jerome Ramatlhakwane’s shot at goal was blocked by the Fighters’ defense.
Two minutes later, Tshepo Motlhabankwe skewed a shot wide. The first clear cut chance of the match, however, went to ‘The Brazilians’ when Bernard Semakwenzi was put through by Khumbulani Madziba in the 7th minute, but the marksman fluffed it with the goal at his mercy.
Fighters, however, took the lead a couple of minutes later when Chiefs’ defender Sekgabo Molebatsi unwittingly set troublesome winger, Ofana Motsomi, on goal and he slid the ball past Raphael Nthwane in Chiefs’ goal.
Fighters nearly grabbed a second goal in the 18th minute when Koorapetse Baroma sent a cross into the Chiefs’ area after a nice interplay between Abednico Powell and Semakwenzi, only for Chiefs captain Arnold Chaka to intervene and clear the danger. From there on, it was Chiefs who posed the most danger as they sought an equalizer, but wayward finishing by their marksmen coupled with brave defending by Fighters denied them.
First, Ramatlhakwane should have scored midway into the first half when he cleanly chest controlled a through ball only to shoot tamely into the hands of Israel Kealeboga in Fighters post. The burly striker then had another chance a few minutes later when midfielder Dirang Moloi threaded a pass to him but was adjudged offside much to the chagrin of Center Chiefs’ fans.
The last chance of the game again fell to Ramatlhakwane three minutes before recess only for Kealeboga to rush off his line and deny him to ensure the game went into recess with Fighters leading by a solitary goal.
Coming from recess and in need of an equalizer, Chiefs made a double substitution with Ramatlhakwane and Molebatsi substituted for Galabgwe Moyana and Phenyo Mongala. The move added much needed impetus to the Chiefs offence as the Kgatleng side took the game to Fighters.
Mongala nearly had an immediate impact as his cross from Dirang Moloi found Kekaetswe Moloi in the box only for the striker to head over the post. Dirang Moloi then went on a solitary run at goal, but his final shot at goal also went over.
Chiefs’ profligacy in front of goal continued in the 66th minute when Moyana put a precise cross into the box only for Mongala to head over the post. Chiefs’ waste of chances was punished in the 71st minute when James Moloi pounced on a loose ball and put it past Nthwane to extend Fighters’ lead to two goals. Ten minutes later, Motsomi latched on to a through ball, glided past the static Chiefs defense and Keeper and slotted home to extend Fighters lead to three goals.
Two minutes from time, Chiefs pulled one goal back after Kealeboga parried a Galabgwe Moyana set piece into the way of Elvis Meleka who gratefully slotted home. The goal added purpose to the Chiefs’ attack as they laid siege to the Fighters goal in a bid to further reduce the deficit but it was too little too late as Fighters held on to take a two goal cushion into their second leg encounter.
On the day’s other game, BDF IX beat BMC by a solitary first half Moreetsi Mosimanyana goal to have the much needed advantage ahead of the return leg.
On the games played on Saturday, Township Rollers beat ECCO City Greens 2 -1 while fellow city giants Gaborone United beat Nico United by the same score line. The teams are now expected to battle it out in the do or die second leg in two weeks’ time.