When Rollers trotted into the pitch against Notwane on Thursday afternoon, one thing was clear: Mapalastina supporters once again have confidence in their side after a long time.
They packed the SSKB Stadium in large numbers, clad in their famous and blue and gold colours. Even the old supporters were spotted in the crowd, cheering their side to the fullest. It reminded one of the time when Rollers used to dominate local football. They were assured of a full house, whether playing at home or away. Despite poor weather conditions, which forced the game to be stopped a few minutes into the second half, Rollers’ supporters were not moved. They waited under the heavy rain conditions until referee Kutlwano Leso restarted the game. In the end, it was worth a wait as Rollers won 2-0 though one would argue that it was not an impressive win.
But the bottom line was that they went home with maximum points which saw them rising to position nine with 22 points from 17 games.
It was in their 1-1 drawn game against city rivals Gaborone United (GU) on February 20 at Molepolole Sports Stadium which reminded many people of the old Rollers. They played beautiful, flowing football and were unlucky not to come away with a result. For the first time this season, Rollers could afford to start with key marksman Onalethata Tshekiso and talented Ntesang Simanyana on the bench.
Rollers coach, Darlington Dodo, said that though they have enjoyed a good run since the beginning of the second round, they cannot relax as they still have a long way to go. Unlike in the first round, Dodo said that he has depth in his squad which makes selection a problem on match-day.
“It is important to have a competitive environment. The arrival of the new players has helped a lot as those who have been here know that they have to fight for their positions. The arrival of Brian (Mapfumo) and Evans (Gwekwerere) has helped us a lot because some of the players know them from the Zimbabwean national team. They have given us options,” said Dodo.
Mapfumo, Gwekwerere, Lovemore Murwira, Kitso Tlhowe and Kaone Molefe are some of the players who were signed during the January transfer window.
The Zimbabwean coach pointed out that the arrival of new signings has come as a blessing as he can afford to fight with other sides.
“In the beginning, it was difficult to come with a squad of 18 players for match-day. That is why we seemed to be struggling but right now it’s a different story. If we can afford to put OT (Tshekiso) on the bench then it shows that we’ve got what it takes to compete,” Dodo said.
The former Dynamos coach asserted that it is important to keep the players focused and take each game as it comes. He said that the danger they can face is players’ complacency if they continue winning.
“I always do my best to give my players feedback after each game. In that case, it helps to keep my players at the level I want them to be,” he said.
Tshekiso, who has scored eight goals this season, concurred with his coach that having a pool of players has created a competitive environment. He said that as players, they cannot afford to relax. He commended Dodo for being a father figure to them, something which has allowed them to feel free when playing.
“All we need to do is work on our performance and try to improve our position (on the log). As for the supporters, they need to play their role by rallying behind the club,” said Tshekiso.