Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Rollers, ECCO to meet in Mascom final

The dream final between Mochudi Centre Chiefs and rivals Township Rollers in the Mascom Top 8 Challenge went up in smoke at the weekend.

This came after Chiefs were bundled out of the competition by spirited ECCO City Greens at Molepolole Sports Complex on Saturday afternoon. Though the score was 1-1 at fulltime, Chiefs bowed out on the away goal rule having played to a goalless draw with ECCO in the first leg which was played in Francistown a fortnight ago.

After winning the Premier League, Chiefs were tipped as favourites to win a treble this season but ECCO spoiled the party. On the day, ECCO did everything right to bring Magosi’s dominance in local football to an end. After losing 3-2 to Chiefs in the Coca-Cola Cup the previous weekend, ECCO coach, Atshele Molapi, said his charges were prepared to bring their more fancied opponents down and it happened.

After a cautious start to the game, both sides opened up midway through the game with countless chances on both ends. Just like in the Coke game, ECCO were the first to draw blood from an unlikely source, right-back Trinity Nko, to silence hundreds of Chiefs’ supporters inside the stadium. His goal meant that Chiefs were left with no option but to win the game.

It proved that it was not going to be Magosi’s day as they missed countless scoring chances with Pontsho Moloi, Joel Mogorosi and Kekaetswe Moloi being the main culprits.

At the break, ECCO were enjoying a 1-0 lead and frustration was written all over Chiefs supporters. Chiefs came back desperate for an equalizer but they continued to miss chance after chance. Mogorosi equalized for Chiefs in the early stages of the second half but they could not find a decisive winner thus ending their road in the tournament. When Rollers entertained Gaborone United in the second semi-final, one supporter was seen with a placard which read, “the noisy neighbours (Chiefs) are out, thank you ECCO.”

The loss is said to have not gone down well with some officials at Chiefs and head coach Madinda Ndlovu’s job might be on the line. This is despite leading Chiefs to the league title.

“We played well last weekend when Madinda was not here but now we’re out of Top 8. I think we should have given Innocent (Morapedi) a chance to continue with the team today, we could be saying something different,” said one Chiefs’ official after the game.

On Sunday, Rollers proceeded to the final after beating 10-man GU 2-1 (4-2 on aggregate) through the goals from youngster Phenyo Molefhe and Mogakolodi Ngele. GU had to finish the game a man down after defender Tumisang Sekanonyana’s stupid lunge on Simisani Mathumo left referee Joshua Bondo without an option but to send him off.

GU got their consolation goal through the individual brilliance of left winger Kgololo Leteane. GU interim coach Philemon Makhwengwe came under fire from the supporters for employing wrong tactics.

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Sunday Standard May 24 – 30

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of May 24 - 30, 2020.