When Orapa United finished second in the league log standings last season everyone though it was just a fluke, a flash in the pan. Not many people expected the less fancied minnows and league newcomers from the obscure mining town of Orapa to repeat the feat this season. However, contrary expectations and against all odds Orapa United had another fairy tale run in the league for a second successive season.
In fact, so good has been ‘The Ostriches’ performance that they are now considered as serious league contenders. While in the past season they consistently trailed behind title rivals Township Rollers and eventual winners Mochudi Centre Chiefs to finish second, this time around Orapa United have been leading from the front foot from the onset. For almost fourteen weeks now, Madinda Ndlovu’s charges have stayed in the top two and gone neck to neck with log leaders Township Rollers in the league race.
Despite this stellar performance one question still lingers on the minds of many people; “Will this be a fairy tale story for The Ostriches or will they finally win the league?”
Football analyst Molatlhegi Mangole believes Orapa United have earned their stripes with their stellar performance and should be taken seriously as title contenders.
“Based on their performances this season, Orapa United are genuine title contenders. The team has consistently maintained its position in the top four brackets for a long time now. For the past ten consecutive weeks, they have been on the top two and at one point even usurped the league leadership from Rollers, albeit only for a short period. This shows that they are genuine contenders and their run should not be taken as a fluke,” said Mangole.
He further said the fact that Orapa United has managed to make it into the semifinals of the Mascom Top 8 tournament, together with the other top four teams in the league, also suggests that they are a quality team that cannot be taken for granted. Last season Orapa United unnecessarily lost points away from home, earning itself the tag of ‘bad travelers.’ However, this time around the team has greatly improved its away form, losing only one away game at the hands of BDF XI early in the season. This was also the only loss suffered by Orapa United so far this season.
“If you play away, you actually are fighting for someone’s points. A draw away therefore means a point gained, not two points dropped. So far, Orapa United has managed to gain points in their away games while ensuring they win most of their home games. They have also never lost a game at home. This is good work that shows that the team really wants to challenge for the league title,” Mangole explained.
He also believes Orapa United are genuine contenders because of the age and strength of their technical team.
“In Ndlovu, Orapa United have a good coach who is not new to challenging for league honors. He has won the league before and has made it to the finals of Mascom Top 8, so he knows what it takes to win the league,” said Mangole.
Asked what it will take for The Ostriches to win the title this season, Mangole said they will have to win all, if not most of their remaining games. He also said their showing against the top four teams in the home stretch will determine their fate. Orapa United are still to face Centre Chiefs and Police XI before closing the league with a match away to title rivals Rollers.
“For anyone to win the league, they have to beat the top four teams. If you beat them, you have a genuine chance of winning the league and things will not be any different for Orapa. They will have to beat their top four rivals and this is where they will have to focus, taking points away from their title rivals,” Mangole concluded.