Thursday, March 30, 2023

No love lost as Rollers, Chiefs open the season

After months of boredom, football supporters across the country must be smiling again as the Be MOBILE Premier League action starts this weekend. Defending champions, Township Rollers, could have not asked for a better fixture than meeting their bitter rivals Mochudi Centre Chiefs in the season opener.

The sides meet in what promises to be a cracker at UB Stadium on Saturday evening (kick off 6pm).

In their last encounter in February, Chiefs narrowly beat Rollers 3-2 in a thrilling clash but it was Mapalastina who had the last laugh by clinching the Premier League trophy at the end of May. It was the second successive league title for Rollers whilst Chiefs have been settling for second best for three seasons in a row.

Since the Premier League office announced that the sides would meet at the university stadium for their opening game, there have been lots of stories but the dust will be settled this weekend come the end of 90 minutes.  

There is no doubt that there is no love lost whenever the two sides meet and this encounter is likely to be no different. Both sides have been quiet during the transfer period and there is likelihood that they might take to the field with the same squads which did business last season.

This week, both sides’ training sessions are likely to be watched by hundreds of supporters who would be assessing their preparation for the epic clash.

On the day, all eyes will be on Chiefs’ coach Madinda Ndlovu who has made a return to the country after months of coaching in Zimbabwe.

Interestingly, Ndlovu is a former Rollers coach and he would like to put one against his former employers.

Since arriving in the country to replace his fellow countryman, Rahman Gumbo, there have been mixed reactions as to whether he is the right man to lead Chiefs. But to his credit, Ndlovu has kept his cool but his credentials will come to the test against Mapalastina. 

Chiefs have played few friendly games in preparation for the season ahead but they got a stern test when they played in a four-team tournament featuring South African Premier League side Platinum Stars on Saturday in Molepolole.
Magosi went down 3-1 to Stars in the second semi-final before drawing 3-3 with Uniao Flamengo Santos.
While Magosi looked good when they were on attack, they were found wanting when under pressure. The absence of experienced defenders Tshepo Motlhabankwe and captain Mpoeleng Mpoeleng exposed the Chiefs’ defence as they lacked a leader.

But Chiefs assistant coach Zacharia Muzadzi remains confident that they can get a result against their fierce rivals.  He pointed out that results were not important against Stars and Santos as they were trying to fine tune their troops for the season.

“This week we’ll be working on a team which is to face Rollers. We’re also expecting Tshepo to be ready for the weekend,” said Muzadzi.

Rollers coach, Wesley Mondo, said that the pre-season tournaments they have taken part in have helped him to assess his charges after a long break. This is despite the fact that Rollers had to do without their national team players who have been in camp in Pretoria, South Africa, in preparation for the 2012 African Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

Captain Edwin Olerile, goalkeeper Kabelo Dambe, Powell Abednico, Sekhana Koko and Onalethata Tshekiso are the five players who were part of the Zebras.
At the weekend, Mondo decided not to use the players to allow them enough rest ahead of their clash against Chiefs.

“By Wednesday, I’ll know how we’re going to approach our game against Chiefs,” he said.

Unfortunately, Rollers will have to do without the services of Abednico who is carrying an injury, which will see him out for at least a month.

It is expected that influential midfielder Amos ‘Shoes’ Godirwang will start in the absence of Abednico.


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