Gaborone United (GU) are halfway through to the next round of the Club African Championships after holding the much fancied and former African champions, Orlando Pirates of South Africa to a goalless draw.
GU did themselves a huge favour by not conceding a goal at home and this then means pressure is on Pirates who have to win the return leg at all costs.
A draw for GU, with or without goals, would be fine and would earn them a historic victory.
One would have thought that Pirates would fire from all cylinders because they had already given up on winning their domestic championships and the CAF competitions, therefore, would be a consolation for them.
It was not to be as GU matched them man for man.
Pirates might have been missing some of their star players but they have a mountain to climb when they meet in two weeks time in the coastal city of Port Elizabeth.
This weekend result is a major achievement for a Botswana team because the South Africans always conquered the local teams with wider margins. At first, the local boys played what seemed like a nervous ball game as they were up against the much respected Pirates, alias ‘Amabakhabakha’.
It took them about ten minutes to settle.
Throughout the first half, Botswana international, Phenyo Mongala, was a menace to GU defenders but they managed to soak his dribbling wizardry and speed.
GU’s Mandla Mogalda was given a rare run and did not disappoint as he harassed the Pirates defence. Unfortunately for him, he missed several sitters.
It was also towards the end of the first half that GU’s goalkeeper saved the team from a goal that was likely to hand Pirates the much needed victory they came seeking.
The threatening potential goal was again from Mongala.
Although Pirates were a bit tactically superior and fitter than GU, they did not use that to their advantage.
The second half also started with GU pressurising Pirates, which had somehow a weak defence.
It was during the second half that GU’s Zimbabwean international, Sageby Sandaka began pushing for goals and was dominant for the most part of the first 20 minutes.
In what is now becoming typical of GU, the team missed a good number of what seemed like potential goals, with the main culprit being Mgadla.
During one encounter, the Pirates goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa, fell down, spilling the ball. Mgadla was nearby, pounced on the ball and faced a yawning goal mouth when he surprisingly kicked the ball aimlessly and it missed the post but was caught by the keeper who had by now recovered.
Ronald Chikomo, who had made his presence felt in the second half, had to leave the pitch as he suffered a leg injury.
Some of the GU supporters were impressed with the performance of the local boys but were sceptical as to whether the boys would be able to survive the second round, which will be in South Africa on the 28th.
“I think this was our chance to win this game, especially since this pitch is not the same as the ones which Pirates are used to practising on, and the fact that we had a home ground advantage. I predict us losing the game in South Africa because now they know what GU is capable of. I think they came unprepared because they didn’t think much of local teams, only to receive the surprise of their lives,” said a GU supporter.