Mochudi Centre Chiefs’ midfield workhorse Lesego Galenamotlhale admits that they are underdogs going into the eagerly awaited beMOBILE Premiership match against arch rivals Township Rollers at the National Stadium this afternoon. Chiefs go into the match lying on the third spot with 22 points from 11 matches while unbeaten Rollers sit at the summit of the standings with 27 points from the same number of matches.
Chiefs have been huffing and puffing since the beginning of the season, something which has seen some of their fans deserting them. After a morale-boosting 2-1 win against Police XI midweek, Galenamotlhale is confident that they will be ready for their bitter enemies.
“Yes, we’ve not been at our best but we’re slowly regaining our confidence. I guess we’ll be in the right shape when we take on Rollers (on Sunday). This is one game which raises the mood of players whenever it comes and we’re no different this time around. We cannot afford to lose this match,” said Galenamotlhale who was a mainstay of the Chiefs’ side when they romped to title victory last season.
Chiefs’ coach Mike Sithole is also confident that his side can pull a surprise and bring an end to Rollers’ perfect start to this campaign. “I want to believe that we’re balanced in terms of defense since KB (Keabetswe Jenamiso) and Maniche (Ontse Ntesa) are back in the team. They played well in midweek and that has given me confidence ahead of the clash with Rollers. We’ve got a full complement of players and it is up to me to see who starts on the day,” Sithole said. While the Zambian gaffer has bemoaned their failure to convert the chances they create during matches, he seems to be singing a different tune following their win over the cops. Sithole is keeping his fingers crossed that Kekaetswe Moloi, Lemponye Tshireletso and Ayanda Molefhe will bring their scoring boots this afternoon. “It is important that we win this match so that they (Rollers) don’t get away from us. The boys are aware of that which makes the game even more interesting,” Sithole pointed out.
Rollers’ gaffer Mark Harrison will be playing his first official match against Chiefs and he is aware of its importance. But the Englishman said that while it is important to outsmart their opponents, he does not want to put his players under unnecessary pressure. “We’ve played three massive games within a couple of weeks so it is important for the players to be relaxed and focused,” said Harrison. Mapalastina come into the game as favourites as they have been in an uncompromising mood this campaign, claiming eight wins and three draws to date. Rollers have also been scoring for fun having rattled the net 26 times, nine more than their bitter rivals. It is midfield wonder-kid Segolame Boy who carries the torch for Mapalastina. On his day, Boy can cause trouble for opponents and there is no doubt that Chiefs are aware of that.
If there is something which might be causing Chiefs endless headaches ahead of this fixture, it is who will be in Rollers’ starting line-up. Since he came to Rollers at the beginning of the season, Harrison has kept his opponents and fans guessing by his rotational system. Upfront he is spoilt for choice with Carl Finnigan returning from suspension and Namibian striker Jerome Louis scoring in the midweek win over Extension Gunners, there is a possibility that they might start.
In their last League meeting last season, Chiefs edged Rollers 1-0 thanks to a strike from Lemponye Tshireletso. But though it was a pre-season tournament, Rollers got revenge when they hammered Chiefs 3-1 in the Kabelano Charity Cup which was played in July. It was Motsholetsi Sikele who was in a mean mood, netting a hat trick and giving Chiefs’ followers with a bitter pill to swallow. And the big question is who will claim the bragging rights come end of 90 minutes? Kick off is 1600hrs.