After five years of absence due to the unavailability of stadiums, the Kabelano Charity Cup is back by popular demand. This coming Saturday (August 17) all roads lead to Lobatse for the much-awaited one day soccer spectacle. The organizers have promised the football lovers that they will leave no stone unturned to stage a wonderful soccer jamboree. Since last week when the draw was conducted at Gaborone Sun, there has been a lot of debate and excitement about this pre-season tournament. Sunday Standard journalist TSHEPO MOLWANE previews the two semi-final matches which are expected to set the tone at Lobatse Sports Stadium.
Nico United vs Mochudi Centre Chiefs (first semi-final, 10am)
Without doubt, all eyes will be on national champions, Mochudi Centre Chiefs, after losing five of their key players from last season. On top of that, Chiefs have lost their technical team headed by Madinda Ndlovu to Township Rollers. Since the departure of double-title winning coach Ndlovu, the onus of preparing for the new season fell on assistant coach Innocent Morapedi.
The knowledgeable tactician can rely on the experience he gained in the past two seasons of working with Ndlovu to plot Nico’s downfall. In reality, this is a new beginning for Chiefs and the country will be interested in seeing how they will fare against Majombolo as their runners-up in the league.
Chiefs have registered six new players, including former Nico United marksman Bonolo Fraizer.
On paper, Chiefs appear unstoppable looking at their new recruits, including strikers Onalethata Tshekiso and Patrick Lenyeletse. Apart from Fraizer, Nico United have also lost their other striker, Master Masitara, who has returned to his home country to join Highlanders in the Zimbabwean Premier League. But the good news for their supporters is that they have managed to hold on to their prized assets, Gift Moyo and Topo Piet, at least for now.
At the draw, Nico United officials promised that they have a surprise package for the football lovers and the nation is waiting. Judging by the quality from both sides, this game promises to be a thrilling spectacle. The duels between the two sides have never been easy.
The last time both sides met in a cup competition last year, Nico hammered Chiefs 2-0 before a packed Selebi-Phikwe Stadium. It could have been worse for Chiefs. Can Majombolo rise to the occasion or they will freeze on the big stage like in the past? Only time will tell.
Township Rollers vs Extension Gunners (second semi-final, 12.30pm). After a disappointing league performance last season, Township Rollers supporters are hoping for the best this time around. And Kabelano Charity Cup is the perfect way to show their supporters what is in store for them.
Rollers have been busy on the transfer market, bringing in a number of players who have added quality to the famous Gaborone giants. Kenanao Kgetholetsile, Gofaone Tiro, Obonye Moswate and Michael Pepukani are some of the players who have joined Mapalastina stable.
In the absence of Onalethata Tshekiso, who has crossed to rivals Mochudi Centre Chiefs, it is expected that Kgetholetsile is expected to lead the attack. Under the tutelage of Madinda Ndlovu, Rollers are expected to produce the flair they displayed under his leadership back in 2005 and 2006.
The likes of Motsholetsi Sikele, Moswate, veteran Thapelo Balepi and Kobamelo Kebaikanye are expected to bring the flair the supporters have been dying for in the previous two campaigns.
Against Gunners, Mapalastina are coming up against a side which has been quiet in the transfer market but there is no doubt that they can compete. Coach China Matlhaku is capable of getting the best out of little-known players who are complemented by the experience of the likes Finkie Mothibi, Tshepo Molefe and Monageng Thaele.
This is one match-up that always brings the best out of Gunners’ players, especially when playing in their own backyard. Buoyed by their intimidating supporters, Gunners might prove a handful for Rollers. The last time both sides met at the same venue, Rollers hammered Gunners 5-1 in November last year. But Gunners’ supporters would argue that this will be a different ball game.
The final is expected to be played late in the afternoon at 4pm. Entrance fee is P130 for Grand Stands and P80 for the rest of the stadium. Tickets are selling at selected Choppies outlets in Gaborone, Tlokweng, Mogoditshane, Francistown, Lobatse, Mochudi and Selebi-Phikwe.
The following are the previous winners of Kabelano;
Extension Gunners- 1996, 1998, 2001.
Mochudi Centre Chiefs- 1997, 2005, 2008.
Township Rollers- 2002, 2004, 2006.
Gaborone United- 2003.