Few weeks are left before the Coca Cola cup heats up. That will be the time whereby the Premier League teams start their participation after watching lowly placed teams sweating it out. Nevertheless, since the inception of the tournament, the so-called small teams gave teams from the elite league a run for their money. Most lowly placed teams, especially those from the First Division, somehow manage to go as far as the semi-final stages. Usually, those Premier League teams that progress all the way to the finals never have it easy against the minnows and normally win either by small margins or by penalties.
For 16 years since the inception of the tournament, there are memories that are still fresh in the minds of many people.
Way back in 1993 during the second year of the tournament, the rivalry between Township Rollers and Gaborone United (GU) was at its boiling point. Both teams always filled the stadium to the brim and GU always had an upper hand something that did not go down well with Rollers supporters. Skirmishes between the teams’ supporters were always reported. Then came the finals in 1993 when GU were looking forward to cement their dominance over Rollers. Rollers, on the other hand, wanted to prove to GU that they still could beat them. But it was not to be as Rollers turned the tables and won the game 4-1. In the game, Rollers scored first via Desmond Molefhe, but they were nearly demoralised when GU leveled matters through Patrick Zibochwa. Rollers ended up winning when they scored three more goals after GU lost the spark. It can be remembered that prior to the game, Rollers did not warm up in the stadium as is the norm but outside behind their supporters stand. Rollers did not even use the usual entrance but used the public one, and there were reports that they feared GU’s black magic. The game might be memorable in many Rollers supporters’ minds but former Rollers goalkeeper, Thabo Motang, believes the 1994 finals in which they ended defeating another rival team, Lobtrans Gunners, was his best ever finals for Rollers.
“As a team, our game against GU was the most memorable, but on a personal note I believe I had the best game against Gunners. I remember that time I saved a penalty when we were still leading by a goal and we went on to win 2-0. Anything could have happened had Gunners equalised but I denied them that chance,” he said.
Motang, however, says when they beat GU, he could feel it in his blood that they were going to win. He adds that he even went to the then GU President, Willie Seboni, and told him to forget about the tournament.
Rollers remain the only team to have won the Coca Cola Cup four times and, of the four victories, Motang participated in three of the finals.
The defending champions, Notwane, also once had the shock of their lives in 1996 when they were eliminated by minnows White Diamonds. What was even more painful about the Toronto Boys was that they were still the defending champions and the tournament was still in its early stages. Notwane also had the best cream of players in the country.
In 2001, the Coca Cola Cup went to the northern part of the country for the first time when Francistown-based side, Tafic, clinched it. Previously, the Cup rotated among teams in Gaborone.
Last year’s Coca Cola Cup is the one remembered most although it was nearly thrown into disarray. The would-be finalists, Township Rollers, were ordered to replay BDF XI, which they defeated in the semifinals. BDF XI player, Bernard Simakwenzi, was allegedly told a few minutes before the game that he would not play because he was improperly registered and Rollers went on to win the game 3-0. BDF XI appealed and a replay was ordered but Rollers refused to take part and BDF XI were given the green light to the finals.
The fracas was more painful to Rollers veteran player, Mmoni ‘States’ Segopolo. Segopolo was looking forward to his fifth gold medal and even intended to use the game as his swan song after a fifteen-year stint with his team. Almost all the players Segopolo started playing with had called it a day, and he was calling shots from the back compared to his hey days when he was a striker.
The winner for this year tournament will walk away with a whooping P90 000 and a floating trophy.
Previous Coca Cola winners
(Gunners 3, Tafic 2)
1993: Township Rollers
(Township Rollers 4, GU 1)
1994: Township Rollers
Township Rollers, 2 Gunners 0
(Notwane 3, BDF XI 1)
1996: Township Rollers
(Township Rollers 2, BMC 0)
(Notwane 2, Mokgosi 0)
1998: BDF XI
(BDF XI 1, Jwaneng Comets 0)
1999: Mogoditshane Fighters
(Mogoditshane Fighters 3, FC Satmos 0)
2000: Mogoditshane Fighters
Tasc 2, Gunners 0
(Tafic beat Tasc on penalties)
2003: Mogoditshane Fighters
Mogoditshane Fighters 1, Township Rollers 0)
2004: BDF XI
(BDF 2, Fighters 0)
2005: Township Rollers
(Township Rollers 3, BDF XI 1)
(Notwane 2, BDF XI 1)