While Miscellaneous gained automatic promotion, Green Lovers achieved it the hard way by beating Mogoditshane Fighters 3-2 on aggregate during the two-legged Promotional Play-Offs. Lovers did the unthinkable beating Fighters 1-0 in the first leg at SSKB Stadium in Mogoditshane on May 23 before they wrapped the tie in the return leg following a 2-2 scoreline.
It is their exciting brand of football they displayed during the play-offs that made the football community look forward to their opening match in the topflight. As a result of lack of funds, Kootswele said the Green submarines did not attract any big names to their club during the winter transfer break. But he remains confident that they will make their mark once the time comes.
When the fixtures were released, Green Lovers were pitted against Nico United in their first match which was played at Serowe Sports Stadium on August 8. That meant that the Bangwato community would have a chance to go rally behind the youthful side. With the experience in the United’s squad, it was expected that they will simply run over their hosts. At least on paper, Majombolo were no match to their hosts. The unthinkable happened – Green Lovers displayed their usual attacking football especially in the second half and in the end won the match 3-2. It was the biggest upset of the weekend and with Jwaneng Galaxy next on the line, there was a lot of interest as to what would transpire in that match. Galaxy made Green Lovers leave Jwaneng empty-handed hammering them 5-2. A lot of questions were raised about the potential of the Green Submarines.
“It is good that we lost now, it makes the boys realise that we’re in a different league and we can’t take things for granted. We’ll go back and prepare for the next match,” responded Kootswele. Things, however, did not improve in their next match as they were beaten 2-0 at home by BR Highlanders on August 22.
Even in defeat, Kootswele believed that they would soon overcome the rough patch and get back to winning ways. Since then, the Green Submarines have registered two consecutive wins beating Motlakase Power Dynamos (4-2) and Sankoyo Bush Bucks (4-3) leaving them with nine points in their five opening matches. “The two wins against Motlakase and Sankoyo were crucial,” chipped in Kootswele.
Interestingly ahead of this weekend’s round six, Green Lovers were the best attacking team having scored 13 goals alongside log leaders Police XI. While the youthful side has been impressive going forward, the same cannot be said about their defence. They have let in 14 goals something which Kootswele admitted is giving him sleepless nights. “We’re working tirelessly with our goalkeepers and defenders in bid to rectify that. We’re going to do everything in the book to ensure that we limit our mistakes at the back. Imagine if our status was determined by goals – in the end we would suffer,” said Kootswele.
He pointed out that that their plan is to minimise their mistakes starting with the game against struggling Gilport Lions at home this afternoon. “Gilport will come at us because they’ve not been doing well and we’ve to be careful,” he said.
Kootswele said following their good run, they can no longer afford to relax. “We need to continue picking points but when you’re winning it is a challenge to keep the players focused but we’ll keep pushing. We’ve not achieved anything right now and we can only assess our performance by the end of the first round,” Kootswele said.
In their squad, the Green Submarines have the hottest striker so far in Moatlhodi Ralesota who has been doing wonders in front. In five matches, he has scored nine goals making him the top goal scorer. Kootswele said that he has been working very hard to make sure that his main man does not lose focus. “When a youngboy makes headlines every week he might get out of hand. I make him understand that he might be scoring goals but he is not there yet. I know a lot of sides will be enquiring about him but I don’t think he’s ready to think about moving elsewhere. Right now he is shining because of the environment he is in. He has been playing with these boys for sometime now and they understand his strengths and weaknesses,” said the owner/coach.
Green Lovers’ next five matches
September 13: vs Gilport Lions in Serowe
September 18: vs FC Satmos in Selebi Phikwe
September 25: vs Gaborone United in Serowe
October 2: vs Extension Gunners in Jwaneng
October 7: vs Miscellaneous in Serowe