Monday, September 28, 2020

GU makes Botswana proud

Perhaps the best result for Botswana in as far as football is concerned remains the goalless draws against Cameroon and Egypt.

Against Cameroon it happened 20 years ago during Independence Day celebrations. The victory was famous for Botswana because Cameroon had just returned from the World Cup where they became the first African country to reach the quarter finals.

The Egyptian draw was in 2006 when Egypt was still the defending champions.

On Sunday, a new chapter was added following a famous victory by Gaborone United. Although both teams played to a two all draw following a goalless one a fortnight ago in Botswana, GU progressed to the next round via the away goal rule and they will meet Mauritius side, Curepipe Starlight in three weeks to come.

The victory is also historic for the team because no Southern African team has ever defeated the South African ones in the African Champions League. GU, on the other hand, look to even create a history that will take ages for any local team to emulate because they might end up in the group stages and might even progress further to the finals provided they keep their cool as is the case currently.

The state of football in Botswana still has a long way to go as far as professional football is concerned. But there are some teams and individuals who are showing great determination and enthusiasm to realise that dream so that the country is at par with others like South Africa.

GU is one of such teams and the victory against the 1995 African champions Orlando Pirates was slowly coming.

The victory by GU even shocked the South African soccer fraternity. The following day after the famous victory, South African newspapers were calling Botswana football by all sorts of nasty names.

Others said Botswana are minnows, amateurs, part timers who double up by working as civil servants. South Africans thought they would bury GU with an avalanche of goals at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth because in Gaborone they mainly used their second string side. Pirates even gave an excuse of the first league that it was too hot for them.

Then came the second leg where the stadium was almost a full house where Pirates supporters descended from all over the country. They gave their team all the moral support and Pirates responded by scoring two beautiful goals via Katlego Mashego and Bennet Chenene.
The first goal came a few minutes before the end of the first half while the second one came a few minutes into the second half.
GU looked dead and buried but they kept on fighting.

Then came the unexpected in the last four minutes of the game. Substitutes Vincent Phiri and Stephen Maposa made a huge difference and Orlando Pirates supporters would like to forget their names quickly but it won’t be that easy.

Phiri’s first corner kick was deflected into the net by Mashego. A minute later Phiri got another corner and Maposa converted from a free header. At the final minute it was a victory worth celebrating and some South African newspapers described it saying that it was like Botswana had qualified for the World Cup.

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