A rejuvenated Nico United stunned the football fraternity when they hammered Mochudi Centre Chiefs 3-0 in the first leg of the Mascom Top 8 Cup quarterfinal which was played before a bumper crowd at the Selebi-Phikwe Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The expensively assembled Chiefs arrived in the copper-nickel mining town as clear favourites but they were made to leave for Gaborone with their tails in between their legs by their hosts.
With 79 minutes on the clock and fans thinking that they were headed for a goalless draw, Nico United produced 10 minutes of ‘crazy football’.
Hardworking midfielder Richard Legwaila stole the show when he scored three goals to hand his side a comfortable lead going into the second leg.
It was his second goal of the day in the 85th minute which left supporters asking for more.
After Chiefs’ substitute Kenamile Mani was dispossessed on the edge of the box, Legwaila hammered home a beautiful curler which left goalkeeper Raphael Nthwane sprawled on the turf.
When referee Kutlwano Leso blew his final whistle, dejected Chiefs’ fans headed for their cars and combis while Nico fans were in full cry.
Hooters, whistles and vuvuzelas could be heard across the stadia as Majombolo recorded one of their famous wins in the football history.
Legwaila was mobbed by his teammates for his leading role in the victory. By Monday morning when he woke up, Legwaila said he needed someone to pinch to believe his exploits of the previous day.┬á┬á
“It is unbelievable because it is not every day that a player can score a hattrick against a team of Chiefs’ calibre. I’m so excited because this also happens to be the first hattrick of my career. What makes it more special is that it came at time when we needed goals to secure the tie ahead of the second leg,” said the Mathathane-born midfielder.
According to Legwaila, it is their head coach Kenneth Mogae’s pep talk which made them to come out of the shell in the second half.
“The coach told us not to sit back and go in search for goals. But he advised us to do it with caution because Chiefs are a dangerous side. At the end of the day we achieved what we wanted. The important thing is to forget about yesterday and focus on the second leg. I want to believe that the job is half done,” he added.
Nico United head coach Kenneth Mogae said they planned well for the game and congratulated his troops for being disciplined throughout the match. He said that their opponents started the game strongly but lost the battle in the second half.
“Lesego (Galenamotlhale) was the one who was causing problems for us in the first half but when he dropped into defence that’s when we took advantage. When we drew with Chiefs (2-2) in the League, they were more dangerous. In the end we’re happy that we’ve been rewarded handsomely for our hardwork,” said Mogae.┬á
Majombolo tactician pointed out that they are not going to change anything in the return leg because it might backfire.
Chiefs’ head coach Mike Sithole did not want to blame his side for the loss saying that they did their best under the circumstances.
He said that their main problem has been converting the chances they create during matches.
“This is not the first time we encountered this problem of scoring. Towards the end of the game we also lost concentration hence we got punished. Though we lost, I still believe that we can comeback depending on our planning,” said Sithole.