Tactical, breathtaking and action-packed ÔÇô that is how one can describe the Mascom Top 8 Final which was played at the National Stadium on Saturday night.
A post-mortem was written for BDF XI going into the game but in the end the army side prevailed over Township Rollers, winning the game 5-4 on post-match penalties to end almost a decade of drought.
The game failed to produce the winner after 120 minutes of football. With the scoreboard reading 1-1 referee Keabetswe Dintwa had no choice but to take the game to penalties.
Throughout the entire 120 minutes, the rain-soaked game kept the football lovers who ignored the bad weather on the edge of their seats.
BDF XI got down to serious business towards the end of the half when Boitumelo Mafoko’s strike deflected off Thato Bolweleng to open the scoring for Matebele.
The deflection left goalkeeper Mwampole Masule sprawled on the wet turf as Matebele players marched in celebration.
Rollers came back from the break charged up and midway through the half referee Dintwa awarded them a penalty after BDF XI players was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the box.
Namibian striker Jerome Louis easily beat BDF XI goalkeeper Takudzwa Ndoro from the spot to level matters.
The two sides tried hard to get more goals but it was not to be as lack of composure and rigid defending dominated the latter stages of the game.
BDF XI captain, Mokgathi Mokgathi, praised his teammates for the fighting spirit they showed on the night.
It was second time lucky for Matebele who lost 2-1 to Gaborone United in last year’s final which was played at Lobatse Stadium. They came into the game as underdogs, with almost everyone dismissing their chances of beating Rollers in a cup final.
Mokgathi showed a lot of bravery when he stood up to take the last penalty which handed his side the victory.
After the game, Mokgathi said that it was necessary for him as a captain to take responsibility.
“It was my third cup final and I wanted to win something having gone home with a silver medal in the two finals I featured in with the club. Some of us are nearing retirement so it was important that we win something for the club. We knew Rollers’ weakness going into the final and the technical team encouraged us to capitalise on them. If you put Rollers under pressure and deny them possession they crack,” he said.
The Sefhare-born striker added that as players they motivated each other knowing that Rollers would be backed by lots of people. He said as senior players they encouraged the youngsters to ensure that everything went smoothly on the night.
“We were pumped up and there was no way we could let Rollers spoil the day for us. Having won the cup, it is important for us to go into Africa to test ourselves against some of the best clubs in African football,” he said.
BDF XI took home P1 million for their efforts and gold medals while Rollers were rewarded with P450,000 and silver medals. DIS director Isaac Kgosi graced the occasion as the guest of honour.