In August 1993, Township Rollers surprised many people when they hammered their traditional foes, Gaborone United (GU), 4-1 in the Coca-Cola Cup final played at the National Stadium in Gaborone.
It was a performance which left their opponents mesmerized while those in the blue corner made fun of their rivals the whole week. Across the country, Township Rollers’ supporters are keeping their fingers crossed that the current generation can pull the same feat like the class of ‘93 so that they can book a place in the final of Mascom Top 8 final scheduled to be played on May 18 at Lobatse Sports Stadium. Rollers host GU to renew their rivalry in the second leg of the Mascom Top 8 semi-final to be played at Molepolole Sports Complex this afternoon (kickoff is at 3pm). In the first leg, GU hammered their blood rivals 4-1 to put one leg into the final. If Rollers want to proceed to the P1 million first-prize final, they need to overcome their opponents with a 4-0 score line.
In reality, it seems like a high mountain to climb but football has proven to be an unpredictable game hence they call it the “beautiful game.
This week both sides have gone all out to prepare for what promises to be humdinger. The football lords say this is one game which GU will have only themselves to be blame if they fail to make it to the final. Under the mentorship of David Bright, GU have recovered from their poor form at the beginning of the year to become a force to reckon with.
Before slaying Rollers in the first leg, GU had a miserable time in trying to contain their fierce rivals. The return of head coach Mike Sithole to Rollers’ bench has given their supporters a bit of hope that they can turn the tables around. After all, Sithole has the experience of winning the tournament having been in charge when they beat ECCO City Greens in the final last August. It is a game in which Sithole came with an unexpected plan which left ECCO hapless.
“In Dubula (Sithole) we believe that he can come up with a plan and we go through to the final. Yes, it will be difficult to beat GU 4-0 but all we can do is pray for miracles. You’ve seen what happened in the UEFA Champions League when underdogs came tops,” said one Rollers’ supporter as he watched his side go through their paces in training this week.
Sithole is aware of the challenge which lies ahead of the second leg but he has not lost hope.
Sithole was not in charge when Mapalastina were beaten in the first leg but he believes he can come up with a plan which can spur his charges to victory. “The boys have been responding well in training and we’re looking forward to the game. Anything is possible and we’re going there to win,” said Sithole. He called on Rollers’ supporters to rally behind the team this afternoon as it will give the players the courage to overturn the tables.
Rollers go into today’s game without suspended defender Oscar Ncenga.
GU head coach David Bright is aware that they will be facing a different side from the one they hammered in the first leg but he has no doubt that they will be victorious at the end of the day, “We’re going to give them a tough game. Our mission is to score a goal or two but we know it’s not going to be easy. Their players are motivated as they want to impress the new coach (Sithole) but we have a plan in place,” said Bright.
The former army major praised Sithole saying that he is a good coach who will try to make life difficult for GU.
“He has experience having won this competition in the past year,” added Bright.
The Reds will be without suspended defender Gaopatwe Seosenyeng and injured Tebogo Sosome.