The race for the P 1 million first prize championship prize seems to be getting tougher by the week. High riding Gaborone United (GU) who, for a long time, have been leading the pack might sooner find themselves trailing other teams, like Mochudi Centre Chiefs.
GU dropped two valuable points when they were held to a oneÔÇôall draw by Lobatse-based side, Extension Gunners, on Friday at Molepolole Sports Complex.
The draw, on the other hand, is good news for Centre Chiefs and if they win over the weekend, both teams would be at par with 43 points. In earnest, Gunners played one of their entertaining games and even had a chance to wrap it up. GU too had numerous chances, but tactically Gunners beat them in most departments. Even possession wise, Gunners were the better team.
Gunners won most of the battle in the midfield and exchanged neat passes that were difficult to deal with by GU. It was clear that GU were missing the services of their stalwart midfielder, Tshepo ‘Schoolboy’ Molefhe. This led to Gunners dribbling wizards Ofentse Mmipi and Abedinico Powell to dictate terms.
GU took the lead on the stroke of half time through their captain, Joseph Phetogo, from a soft goal. A floating corner found Phetogo inside the box and scrambled with some Gunners defenders and it fortunately hit his head and, unfortunately for Gunners, their goalkeeper, Mandivenga Paradzayi, was a bit off line and the ball caught him off guard much to the delight of GU supporters. In the second half, Gunners were even more ignited but their efforts were thwarted by GU goalie, Raphael Nthwaane and even the tight defence made up of, Phetogo, Itayi Gwandu, Kabo Molokwane and Gabriel Bokhuto.
Bokhuto, who normally orchestrates GU moves, was restricted on the day and rarely made those mobile overlaps. This was mainly because he was troubled by Gunners speedy winger, Kgololo Leteane, and any move for Bokhutlo up front would have been suicidal. The all important Gunners equaliser came ten minutes from time from their Burundian international, Aime Nzohabonayo, after a nice build up from the midfield.
Nzohabonayo then sliced through impregnable GU defence and unleashed a powerful short that did not give Nthwaane a chance. Moments latter, Mmipi also missed what looked like a winning goal as his short missed by a whisker.
GU lethal striker, Sageby Sandaka, also failed to give his team valuable three points on referee’s optional time when he ballooned despite having Gunners’s goalie at his mercy. After the game, GU coach, Mike Sithole, decried the lack of depth in the team. He said the absence of Molefhe had a negative impact because their midfield did not coordinate well. He said they hope to have him in the coming games.
“Molefhe is a vital member of the team and his absence is bad news for us. Our depth leaves a lot to be desired and if other players like Phetogo are not playing, there is also always a problem. Gunners gave us a good game and it was what we were expecting from them,” he said.
On the other hand, Gunners coach, Daniel Nare, gave a pat to his boys but decried a soft goal they conceded.
“It was indeed a good game but everybody saw how my team played.
Despite the soft goal we conceded we were better in most departments. Even my players responded well to my tactics and we even had a chance to wrap up this game. I hope today’s performance will spur the players to perform even much better in coming games,” he said.