Sunday, May 19, 2024

The rise and rise of GU

Gaborone United are on a roll! They have only lost to BDF XI and have beaten Chiefs, Rollers and BMC. With the exception of BDF XI, GU has not lost to a team outside the top bracket, and is clearly in an uncompromising mood.

Ironically, at the start of the season, there were doubts over the caliber of GU players; the only certainty was that they had a good tactician, Mike Sithole.

However, judging by their performances, there is a mark of quality, a consistent side improving with every season. They came fourth the other season and came second last season.

Sithole has labeled his side ‘average’, arguing that there are no national team players, more so that most of the key players were rejects from other teams and a few, genuine signings but the performance on the pitch suggests otherwise. Sithole went on to say that his side’s good run is more a product of teamwork than outstanding individual acumen. He also attributed his team’s good run to hard work from the players whom he said are dedicated.

Midfield maestro, Tshepho Molefe, has been singled out by the assistant coach, Zaid Jalaal, as the best performer this far. The slender midfielder has been in scintillating form to the extent of scoring invaluable goals when the chips are down. Most of the goals were long-range efforts, defining his accuracy, which also has enabled him to execute pinpoint passes with perfection. The interesting part about GU is that their midfield is a spectacle of touch and movement and they spend little time on the ball while moving into spaces.

Jalaal said in the midfield department, they have players on the bench who can immediately change the complexion of the game. He cited the midweek encounter with Police XI when substitute Kebatlogetse ‘Go man’ Batsweletse made wonders after his introduction in the second half. Even in the absence of their captain, Itayi Gwandu, due to injury, GU never showed any signs of weakness as Under 20 international Ofentse Nato easily replaced him.

There is also Steven Maposa with audacious skills and an eye for goal. Another Under 20 sensational, Ntesang ‘Mirror’ Simanyana, always starts from the bench but every time he comes on, the game always goes his way as he dictates terms.

On the other hand Jalaal said they are still looking for a midfielder who can complement Molefhe by dictating terms in the midfield. Though little threat was posed to Raphael Nthwane, owing to the teams’ excellent defence, the goal minder has become a completely different player from what he was when he was at Mochudi Center Chiefs.

The defence is marshaled by Joseph Phetogo who is a central defender and pundits have even remarked that he deserves a better league. The towering GU Center back was last season with South African First Division side, Nathi Lions and has been a pillar at the heart of the defence thwarting many dangerous moves. On the other hand, Jalaal said they are looking for a man marker who will complement Phetogo. He credited Branco Molokwane for a sterling performance in that area.

In the right back position, Gabriel Bokhutlo’s takeoff when overlapping is one of the team’s strong points. They may not have wingers but so far their wingbacks, led by Bashin Modisaotsile, have been outstanding.

Since the inception of the league in 1967, GU has won it four times, the last time having been in 1990. Since then, they have never been convincing but at times luck eludes them.
Poor fixturing this season seems not to be deterring them


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