Township Rollers have booked a place in the final of Mascom Top 8 Cup but it was not plain sailing for Mapalastina. They had to sweat blood to settle for a 1-1 draw against pumped up Gaborone United (GU) in the semi-final second leg which was played at the National Stadium on Wednesday night. The stalemate ensured that Mapalastina go through with a slim 3-2 win having won the first leg 2-1 some weeks back.
It took a brilliant second half strike from Namibian forward Jerome Louis to settle the tie after Kgololo Kgogobi had given the Reds the lead minutes before halftime.
With the semi-final’s stress over now, Mapalastina have to turn their focus to the final in which they are going to face stubborn BDF XI.
Matebele booked a final berth after beating Nico United 5-3 in the other semi-final. On Saturday (March 1), all roads lead to the National Stadium next Saturday (March 1) with the P1m prize at stake.
Rollers have promised to leave no stone unturned in order to lift their second Top 8 title in three years.
Mapalastina won the first edition in 2012 when they beat ECCO City Greens 3-1 at UB Stadium. At the time, Rollers were under the mentorship of Mike Sithole whose tactics proved to be strong for Mamojadiskie.
It will be coach Madinda Ndlovu’s first appearance in the final having failed in the previous editions whilst at Mochudi Centre Chiefs.
Ndlovu could hardly sit down on Wednesday night as GU pressed forward for the winner.
“It was always going to be difficult to play against a team with a new coach (George Mogopodi). We already had two away goals going into the game and we had nothing to lose. We wanted to see what they (GU) have in store for us in terms of tactics. That is why we came out of our shell in the second half,” said Ndlovu.
The Zimbabwean coach said they will be underdogs in the finals because BDF XI are on top of their game at the present moment. He said the fact that BDF XI are in the final shows that they are a strong side.
“We’ll accord them the respect they deserve but we’ll come up with a plan which will ensure that we win the cup for our fans. We are going to do our best that will entertain the football supporters who will come watch the game,” said Ndlovu.
On the other hand, BDF XI reached the second consecutive final having lost 2-1 to GU last year. It was a game which saw BDF XI finish the game with 10 men after their then goalkeeper Michael Pepukani was red carded. It is a game in which many BDF XI supporters believe that they were unlucky to go home empty-handed. Having beaten BMC and Nico United on their way to the final, Matebele chairman Boikanyo Addanes believes they have what it takes to dispose of Rollers.
“Though we have injuries to some of the key players, I think we have depth in our squad. I think we can go out there and compete. We lost in last year’s final but only God knows what will happen this time around,” said Addanes.