Thursday, July 7, 2022

Moyo’s last gasp goal sinks Chiefs

Extension Gunners have every reason to smile. After years of trying, the side has managed to go through to the final of the prestigious Coca-Cola Cup.

In a hard-fought game played at Lobatse Sports Complex on Saturday afternoon, Mapantsula narrowly beat favourites Mochudi Centre Chiefs 1-0.

It was nippy striker Hendrick┬á ‘Mopapa’ Moyo who settled the score in the 117th minute. Both sides were locked at 0-0 inside 90 minutes and extra-time had to decide the outcome.

Huge celebrations followed when referee Joshua Bondo blew the final whistle.

Gunners supporters’ joy was justified as it has been many years of pain and suffering. The last time Gunners won the country’s FA Cup was in 1992 when they had a crack side which brought smiles to their hordes of supporters. During that time, Gunners were backed by Lobatse Cash Stores (LCS) and they could afford to buy quality players who delivered the results.

But things changed for the worse from the late 90s when Gunners started to struggle financially. On the pitch, results were no longer coming in.

Gunners’ shoe-string budget saw them losing some of the big names to other giants like Township Rollers and Chiefs. Both Chiefs and Rollers have been dominating the local scene in the last five years.

When the Coca-Cola Cup kicked off this year, nobody gave Gunners a chance to make it to the final. As always, Chiefs and Rollers were favoured to make it to the final provided they avoided each other.

With Rollers having been knocked out by Uniao Flamengo Santos in the quarter-finals, Chiefs were favourites to lift the trophy and most people did not see Gunners as a stumbling block. Even the fact that Gunners had beaten Chiefs in the league this season, did not count in their favour. Most people read too much into Gunners’ 1-0 loss to lowly-placed Miscellaneous the previous weekend.

On Saturday afternoon in Lobatse, the stage was set for the Gunners-Chiefs clash and thousands of supporters thronged the newly-built stadium to witness one of the most wanted fixtures in the Botswana football calendar.  Not even the rainy weather stopped the football supporters from gracing the event.

Gunners shocked many when they matched Chiefs technically and tactically. The shaky central defence of Canny Gaontebale and Kerapetse Mosimanekgosi had their hands full the whole day but they came out with flying colours. In the middle, even though he was not at his best, Kemmy Pilato matched Chiefs and covered his defence well.

After an action packed 90 minutes, Gunners got the break when Moyo forced his way past Chiefs’ captain Mpoeleng ‘Stopper’ Mpoeleng to slot the ball past oncoming goalkeeper Noah Maposa. Lobatse Stadium erupted into song and dance.

When Extension Gunners won the inaugural cup at the National Stadium in Gaborone, Moyo was a three year old toddler in Matobo. He did not know anything about football, let alone Gunners.

According to the 22-year-old striker, he grew up supporting Gunners and joining Mapantsula was a dream come true. He added that since he arrived, he wanted to achieve something big with the club.

“It’s been bad to see our supporters suffering over the years and I’m glad that goal puts a smile on their faces. We came into this game wanting to win and we knew it was not going to be easy.
People did not give us a chance but our coach (Maxwell Moyo) inspired us out there and show what we can do. Chiefs are a good side and we gave them a run for their money today,” he said.

Moyo said that having passed Chiefs’ test, he has no doubt that they will lift the cup.

“Chiefs was our biggest hurdle and without underestimating the side we’re going to meet in the final, I think we stand a better chance of winning silverware,” he continued.

Gunners are scheduled to meet Motlakase from Palapye in the final on April 30. The organizers were still to decide on the venue at the time of going to press.

Motlakase shocked Uniao Flamengo Santos when they beat them 4-2 on penalties in another semi-final played on Saturday at the Molepole Sports Complex. Both sides were tied at 1-1 after 120 minutes of play.

 It has been a fairytale run for Motlakase in the Coke Cup considering that they are struggling in the league. Motlakase are fighting relegation as they are placed on the 14th position in the 16-team log. With four games to go, they have 20 points and chances are that they may drop to the lower ranks.


Read this week's paper