Sunday, April 18, 2021

Gunners clinch Coke Cup at last

After years of suffering an empty trophy cabinet, Extension Gunners’ supporters finally had something to cheer about after watching their side dismantling a 10-man Motlakase 3-1 in an action-packed Coca-Cola Cup final played at Lobatse Sports Complex on Saturday afternoon.

When referee, Lekgotla Johannes, blew the final whistle, wild celebrations erupted around the multi-million pula stadia.

It was clear from the onset that both sides were desperate for silverware as officials from both sides clashed by the Gunners’ bench before kick-off. The home side accused Motlakase of dropping something like muti on their bench.

It took the intervention of match officials to calm down the situation.

Despite the poor turf, both sides did their best to dish out beautiful football, which had the supporters glued to their seats.

Watched by yesteryear stars in the likes of Kopano ‘Computer’ Phakedi, Solomon Moipolai, Joshua ‘Jojo’ Mogotsi and Naphtally ‘Scara’ Kebalepile, Gunners’ players did their best to prove themselves.

But their performance on the day did not come any nearer than the one they posted in the semis when they eliminated expensively-assembled Mochudi Centre Chiefs.

Buoyed by their massive support, Mapantsula created numerous scoring chances but they were let down by poor finishing by their front-runners.

But it was clear that Motlakase were not going to let it go without a fight. Though it was their maiden appearance in the finals, the Premier League strugglers did everything in their power to come to the party.

It was the performance of Zimbabwean Hillary Madzivanyika in the middle of the park for the Palapye side which impressed many people on the day. As it has been the case throughout the season, Motlakase looked suspect upfront and hardly threatened Gunners.

When they finally got chances, they wasted them much to the disappointment of the travelling supporters.

After a goalless first half, Gunners upped their performance after the break and it paid dividends.

Just four minutes into the second stanza, Maano Ditshupo headed home the opener which left the stadia in wild celebrations. Gunners controlled the tempo of the game with Kemmy Pilato influential in the middle.

In the 75th minute, substitute Owen Baruti equalized for the visitors when he pounced from inside the box. But their celebrations were short-lived as Kgololo Leteane hammered home a 40m drive to give Gunners a 2-1 lead. Motlakase goalkeeper, Segakolodi Ntima, should have done better to stop the ball from kissing the net. Leteane completed his brace and put the matter beyond Motlakase’s reach in the 80th minute.

Motlakase had their captain Barulaganye ‘Jomo’ Bolofete sent off towards the end for dissent.
Gunners’ coach Maxwell Moyo credited his side for responding well after the break. He said that his charges wasted a number of chances in the opening half, something which he said he alerted them about at the break.

“It’s good that we’ve managed to clinch it in the end but I must commend Motlakase for putting up a good fight. This team (Gunners) has potential and we can build a strong team next season if I stay (as a coach),” he said. Motlakase coach, Boyo Radipotsane, said that his side committed silly mistakes which led to Gunners’ goals. He added that it was going to be difficult for his side to win the game because of the refereeing team on the day.

Radipotsane pointed out that when they drew 1-1 with Township Rollers in the league recently, it was referee Johannes who was in charge and they were not happy with his decisions. Having failed to win the Coke Cup, Motlakase turn their focus to the league where they are hoping to avoid the chop.
Kebalepile said even though they have won the cup, he was not impressed about Gunners’ defence, especially the fullbacks.

“They could not start the play from the back, something is worrisome in the modern game. Motlakase applied themselves better than us on the day,” said Kebalepile.

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