Wednesday, July 6, 2022

‘Rollers are dead and buried’ – Bright

Gaborone City came to a standstill on Saturday afternoon when Township Rollers hosted their traditional rivals, Gaborone United (GU), in the first leg of the Mascom Top 8 semi-finals. It was a game which had set tongues wagging the whole week with some people already dismissing GU’s chances of advancing to the final based on the previous records of the these two bigwigs.

After the light showers, which hit the capital city in the morning, the stage was set for what was the more anticipated of the two semi-finals which was played over the weekend.

The pressure was there on the faces of those close to the clubs but one never imagined the Reds burying Mapalastina in an avalanche of goals. Though a full house was expected, those who braced the unpredictable weather surely went home satisfied with the kind of performance which was on displayed, especially the ones in GU corner.

It took a crazy first half to make GU firm favourites to proceed to the final, which will be played on May 18 at a venue still to be decided by the sponsors and Botswana Premier League this week.

It was a game which brought back the memories of the derby games which used to be played in the 1990s. A brace from Ronald Chikomo, a goal apiece from Moemedi Moatlhaping and Tebogo Sembowa ensured a dramatic comeback for the Reds to seal the victory.

Rollers took a lead in the third minute through Evans Gwekwerere but GU showed a lot of character to put themselves in pole position of reaching the P1 million finale. At the break, GU were leading 4-1 and thwarted all efforts by Rollers to make a comeback in the second half. At the end of the day, it was a deserved win for the Reds.

It was a sweet victory for the Reds’ supporters who have watched in frustration over the years as their side struggled to beat Rollers. While GU supporters were busy celebrating a victory, which will surely go into history books, Rollers’ supporters were counting their losses.

One thing was clear, Mapalastina have had enough of their Zimbabwean head coach Darlington Dodo and they want him to be fired. Whether the management of Rollers will bow down to the pressure from the supporters remains to be seen.

GU head coach, David Bright, who masterminded the humiliation of Rollers has declared that their foes are dead and buried. He boasted that after seeing Rollers’ approach to the game earlier on, he knew that they were in with a chance.

Bright said that they changed their initial plan after realizing that Rollers had decided to start with two strong strikers.

“We instructed Sebina (Tebogo Sosome) to help the defenders more and our plan worked well. Our defence played their hearts out despite conceding an early goal. I think tactically and psychologically the boys were prepared and I must commend them for the job well done,” said Bright.

The GU mentor hinted that their plan was to get the important away goals and consolidate. He dismissed any chances of Rollers beating them 4-0 in the return leg to proceed to the final.

“The away goals we scored are heavy on their side. I don’t think we can fail to score (in the return leg) looking at the way their defence is playing,” Bright pointed out. The two sides meet in a return leg in a fortnight.

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