Gaborone United (GU)’s revival continued to gain momentum as they beat a defensive minded Police XI by a solitary goal in a game played at the Molepolole Sports Complex this past Saturday. The win was a second successive one for GU, who had dominated proceedings from the first whistle. While GU deservedly won the match, scrutiny will perhaps be on Police XI’s approach to the game. Going into their encounter with GU, ‘The Jungle Kings,’ as Police XI is affectionately known, were yet to lose and their expansive and attacking football had some people already touting them as league contenders.
However, surprisingly, the Police XI that took to the ground against GU were a shadow of the swashbuckling Police XI of the past four games, opting to have more bodies behind the ball and catch GU on the counter. The approach proved to be Police XI’s main undoing as they never really got out of first gear as the Ntesang Simanyana inspired GU dictated terms for the entire match. “I was really surprised with Police approach in today’s game. They were more defensive minded and wanted to hit us on the counter attack but we read them well in the first half. They didn’t even change the formation, they kept playing the same until the end of the game,” GU mentor Allen Gumbo said in his post match assessment. Police XI had the first shot at goal in the 3rd minute courtesy of Kawashu Makai, whose effort went straight into the hands of Goitseone Phoko. GU then went on a swift attack just a minute later and Police XI were lucky to see Benson Shilongo’s diving header go slightly wide off the upright.
GU carved another chance in the 8th minute when Simanyana looped a ball over the Police XI defence to find Kgololo Kgogobi, whose cross fell into the feet of Shilongo, only for a timely recovery and intervention by the Police XI to thwart him and concede a corner. The Jungle Kings were once again left off the hook in the 19th minute as Osego Gaotewe’s goal bound effort hit the bar before it was cleared by the Police XI defence. Simanyana, who was not tightly marked and was having a field day in the centre of the park, created another chance in the 31st minute when he once again looped a ball over the Police XI defence to find Moyo, but the latter’s shot on the turn went wide off the mark.
While GU controlled the game and created chances, the team could however not convert and the two sides went into recess goalless. From recess, it was once again GU who showed more initiative as Kgogobi’s attempt in the 47th minute went narrowly wide. Police XI would however have their own chance in the 52nd minute when Kaone Molefe found Joseph Joseph with a back pass on the edge of the area but his shot went wide. GU duly took the lead in the 59th minute when Letlhogonolo Senwelo unnecessarily fouled Mpho Kgaswane on the edge of the box. The youngster then dusted himself off to take the set piece, which he curled past the Police XI wall and into the net past a despairing Bokamoso Moeba in between the sticks. The goal proved to be decisive as Police XI never really threatened, while GU seemed content to keep the ball though not creating many chances.
Commenting on the game, Police XI Coach Maitumelo Letlaamoreng admitted his team never really got it going as they let Simanyana and GU dictate terms. “I think today most of my players were not in the game, especially in the midfield. We were letting GU receive balls freely and the guy who killed us is Mirror (Simanyana). We were always second on the ball,” the Police XI gaffer said. Concerning GU’s goal, Letlaamoreng said his defence gifted it to their opponents as they committed an unnecessary foul. On whether his players’ no show was not due to pressure of expectation following the team’s flying start to the season, the Police XI coach said there was no pressure on his team. For his part, GU mentor Gumbo, while surprised with Police XI’s defensive approach, was happy with his team’s second win in a row. “For us, this is a good result. We started the season badly and now it seems we are battling back slowly. It is a second consecutive win for us which is a good result,” Gumbo said.