On Saturday football supporters thronged the national stadium to give support to Township Rollers in the CAF champions’ league campaign. Congratulations are in order for Township Rollers who did not disappoint the magnitude of supporters by qualifying for the group stages of the continental top club tournament. Popa as Rollers is commonly called within the football circles hosted Tanzanian side, Young African in the second leg of the preliminary stage. In the first leg played in Dodoma in Tanzania, Rollers emerged victorious by beating the host 2 ÔÇô 1 and the local supporters were satisfied with the result and remained optimistic for victory in the second leg.
However in the second leg, the two played to a goalless draw giving Popa the advantage to proceed with 2 ÔÇô 1 aggregate score. Rollers captain, Maano Ditshupo could not talk because he was overwhelmed by happiness. Speaking on behalf of ‘Mapalastina’ captain, Joel Mogorosi noted that their mission has been accomplished, “we finally got what we wanted.”
“What remains now is the league which to us has never been our focus because we never planned to win it. Our season is almost over, we won Mascom Top 8 cup, and now we qualified for the CAF champions’ league group stages,” said the excited Mogorosi.
Though he said they are not under pressure to win the BTC league championship he said they will fight hard. “Just because we did not target the league victory does not mean we are throwing in the towel. We are still going to hit our opponents hard in the remaining games of the league,” said Mogorosi.
With tears filled in his eyes when the final whistle blew, emotional Nikola Kavazovic knelt down pointing his fingers to the heavens dedicating the victory to his late son who passed away two years ago.
“He is the only person I will not have the opportunity to celebrate the success with, but I believe he is watching from somewhere,” Kavazovic said. He added that, “it’s unrealistic that we will reach the finals of the tournament but they will compete well against other giants.”
He furthermore noted that they are now part of Africa’s football giants as many Africans will start talking about Township Rollers.
‘Popa’ has two months to prepare for the group stages which are scheduled to proceed from May to August 2018. In the COSAFA region teams that have qualified for Groups stages are, Township Rollers (Botswana), Mbabane Swallows (Swaziland), Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa), ZESCO United (Zambia), 1o de Agosto (Angola) and TP Mazembe (Democratic Republic of Congo). The other teams are Kampala City (Uganda), AS Togo-Port (Togo), Horoya A.C (Guinea), Al Ahly (Egypt), MC Alger (Algeria), ES Setif (Algeria), Etoile du Sahel (Tunisia), Esperance de Tunis (Tunisia), Wydad Casablanca (Morocco) and Difaa El Jadidi (Morocco).
Rollers are expected to know their opponents on Wednesday when the draw is expected to be conducted in Cairo, Egypt. Four groups will consist of four clubs each.