At the beginning of the current campaign, Extension Gunners’ head coach, Odirile ‘China’ Matlhaku, promised the club’s followers to play entertaining football coupled with results.
He seemed to have achieved this when Gunners went on an eight-match unbeaten run between December and March. But After their 2-1 defeat to Gaborone United during Easter Holidays, it seemed the wheels have come off at Mapantsula – something which made their supporters press panic buttons, wondering what could have gone wrong. It was not until their surprise 3-2 win over league champions Mochudi Centre Chiefs last Wednesday that Gunners’ supporters once again restored their faith in Matlhaku.
It was a game in which Gunners came from a 2-0 deficit to gunner maximum points. One thing for sure, Gunners will end this season in the Top 8 bracket following their ninth-place finish last season which left thousands of their supporters jubilant.
Ahead of their last game of the season against Nico United at Lobatse New Stadium this Saturday, Mapantsula are safely sitting in the seventh spot with 44 points. Following their courageous win over Chiefs, Matlhaku expects his players to come to the party and close the season in style. ┬á
It is a game Gunners’ technical team wants to use to thank the supporters who have been behind the team this season despite the challenges they have encountered along the way.
While Matlhaku is satisfied with finishing the season in the Top 8 bracket, he decried their lack of killer punch. Gunners relied heavily on Mponang Mponang and Boitshoko Zikhale to score the goals for them this season and when they were closely guarded or injured, there was no other source of goals.
Gunners are the fourth worst team on the scoring charts this season, even the relegated Mogoditshane Fighters scored more than the Peleng giants. Gunners managed to find the net 32 times in 29 games, which is a bad record by any standards. “Scoring was a problem for us this season. We tried to address it many times (in training) but things did not improve. At times the injuries to Mponang and Zikhale crippled us a lot but there was nothing we could do as injuries are part of the game. We tried to get strikers (during January transfer window) but we were unfortunate,” said Matlhaku.
The soft-spoken tactician is hopeful that next season the club’s management will try to bring established strikers to remove the burden of scoring from Mponang and Zikhale. “It has not been an easy season for us (as the technical team) because we were going through a building process. We have not achieved our target (of reaching 50 points) and we’re counting on our game against Nico to at least come nearer to the points we’ve set ourselves. If we maintain the same squad next season I’ve no doubt that we’ll better our position at the end of the campaign,” he said.
Final Be MOBILE Premier League fixtures;
Gaborone United vs Notwane @ Molepolole Stadium, 7pm
Township Rollers vs TAFIC @ Molepolole Stadium, 7pm
Uniao Flamengo Santos vs Miscellaneous @ Molepolole Stadium, 7pm
Centre Chiefs vs Mogoditshane Fighters @ Molepolole Stadium, 3pm
Extension Gunners vs Nico United @ New Lobatse Stadium, 3pm
ECCO City Greens vs BMC @ Francistown Stadium, 3pm
Motlakase vs BDF XI @ Selebi-Phikwe Stadium, 3pm
Prisons XI vs BR Highlanders @ Molepolole Stadium, 3pm