Gaborone United (GU)’s interim coach, Philemon Makhwengwe, aims to end their bad run against traditional rivals, Township Rollers, when they meet in the second leg of the Mascom Top 8 semi-final at Molepolole Sports Complex this afternoon.
GU has not tasted a win over their rivals for three years now, their last win having been in May 2009 when the Reds won the league championship. The Reds hammered hapless Rollers 5-1 interestingly at the same venue they are meeting this afternoon.
At the time, Rollers came under fire from some sections who claimed that Mapalastina ‘sold’ the game to their rivals in order to win the league at the expense of Mochudi Centre Chiefs.
If indeed it was true at the time that favours were exchanged, this afternoon there is no chance of that happening. Both sides have surrendered the league title to Chiefs and they know that winning the P1m first-prize at stake in this competition is the only thing remaining to save face.
GU comes into this game trailing 2-1 after the first leg, which was played at UB Stadium a fortnight ago. ┬áA solitary goal will be enough to take the Reds through to their first ever final in close to 10 years.┬á
On Friday, both sides trained in Molepolole in order to adjust to the conditions at the stadium. While the Reds trained there in the afternoon, Rollers used the facility in the evening.
Makhwengwe, whose rein at GU comes to an end anytime soon, has promised their fans that they will beat their rivals. He said that their preparations for the clash have gone well and he has no doubt that his players will come to the party.
“We gave away the first game because of our defensive errors. It’s something we’ve tried to work on to go through this hurdle (Rollers). This thing of not beating Rollers must come to an end because I want to believe it’s all in the players’ minds,” he said.
Makhwengwe added that if GU players know the importance of wearing the famous red and white jersey, they will do their best to beat Mapalastina. While he has respect for their opponents, Makhwengwe hinted that he has not lost to the same team thrice and he has no intentions of starting it now. “Naturally I’m a confident person and I want to transfer that into my players. If they believe in themselves, I have no doubt that they’ll come on top. What is important right now is for the supporters to rally behind the team. They must stop criticizing us (technical team) for putting a wrong team on the field. I work with the players daily and I field them basing on their input at training not on reputation,” said Makhwengwe.
He pointed out that they do not have any injury or suspension concerns. It was only striker Ronald Chikomo who was carrying a minor knock but he should be available for the decider. Midfielder Ofentse Nato who scored their only goal a fortnight ago joined the rest of his teammates on Friday afternoon after spending the week on trials at South African Premier League rookies Pretoria University.