4 March 2018

Botswana: Rollers Break Top 8 Jinx

Francistown — Reigning premier league champions, Township Rollers have finally broken their four-year Mascom Top 8 Cup final hoodoo by thrashing hapless Orapa United 4-2 at the Francistown Sports Complex to win the coveted cup for the second time and pocket the lucrative P1.3 million prize money.

Rollers goals came courtesy of Lemponye Tshireletso, Edwin Moalosi, Bogosi Nfila and Kaone Van der Westhuizen.

Orapa United on the other hand responded late in the second half against the run of play through Omaatla Kebatho and Gift Moyo.

From the first whistle, Mapalastina were beaming with confidence and exuded the kind of attitude, arrogance and skills required in a game of the Mascom Top 8 Cup final level.

Many of the senior players in Maano Ditshupo, Ofentse Nato, Simisani Mathumo, Tshepo Motlhabankwe and Tshireletso provided the leadership required of players of their caliber and kept the rhythm of the game consistent throughout the 90 minutes.

Appearing in their fifth final of the competition, the Blues showed their intent as early as the 10th minute of the game when after dominating in the opening proceedings, Tshireletso smashed in a through ball into the back of the net from a skillfully woven move to put Popa ahead and send their fans into rapturous celebration.

Immediately after firing a warning shot, Mapalastina dominated the game with Moalosi and Tshireletso leading the way by keeping the United defence manned by Thabang Mosige, Kealeboga Molebatsi, Lesenya Ramoraka and Olekantse Mambo in their sixes and sevens.

From the onset, Rollers demonstrated tactical superiority never seen in a long time as they suffocated and neutralised Orapa's attempts, cutting all their dangerous passes from the back.

This rendered the United midfield incoherent and left Kebatho and Onkabetse Makgantai isolated upfront with no supply from the midfield.

The Blues, who were in a buoyant mood, made easy meat of the diamond miners in the most thrilling way possible.

Buoyed by cheers from their fans in a capacity crowd, Rollers were all over United and could have scored more than two goals in the first half had their strikers utilised the opportunities that came their way.

The defty footwork of Segolame Boy proved a menace for Orapa United's defenders, as he weaved his magic in the middle of the pack and ensured that his team dominated in possession.

Like a choir conductor of a philharmonic orchestra, he controlled the midfield with ease and sprayed short passes that confused his markers.

His sublime, cultured left foot did the magic, twisting and turning defenders with ease.

It was evident from their display that a seemingly unstoppable Rollers would score an avalanche of goals during the game.

The nippy Moalosi on the other hand proved to be a source of pain in the United Achilles heels as they spent the better part of the first half chasing his shadow.

Township Rollers swashbuckling performance in the first half was designed to exact sweet revenge from a team that had denied them the cup during the 2015/16 final of the Mascom Top 8 edition.

The capacity crowd at the Francistown Sports Complex cheered them all the way as they opted for an offensive display.

For a while, Keagile Kgosipula was on holiday, being only called to action intermittently through stray Orapa United attempts.

In the first half the fans got value for their money as Rollers dished a match that pulsated with scintillating play.

Nato proved to be key in the middle of the park and his experience in dictating the rhythm of the game was instrumental in many of the Rollers attacks which kept Mosimanegape Robert busy in the Orapa United goals.

In the defence, Mathumo, Mosha Gaolaolwe, Motlhabankwe and Galabgwe Moyana were solid and thwarted any attacks that came their way.

Rollers lost Moalosi deep in the first half through injury and brought in Nfila who rewarded coach Nikola Kavazovic's faith in him with a goal.

While Orapa United tried to string in passes and shots at goal, most of them were off target. Mambo, especially tried to shoot from afar but his efforts were in vain.

While United at some stages demonstrated some flashes of brilliance through Kobamelo Kebaikanye and Tendai Nyumasi, Rollers were quick to wrestle back control of the game which denied their opponents the ability to recover.

The United midfield also disintegrated as the first half drew to a close. United's main undoing was its midfield which exhibited an abject display throughout the game.

They were thoroughly dominated in this department and they ended up being punch-drunk from being continually raided by a well-oiled Rollers machine which deployed a proper and modern game plan.

When under attack, Orapa United's midfielders shifted pressure towards their overworked rearguard which in turn failed to soak up the pressure.

Their defence which on many occasions is a source of pride wilted when confronted by pace and inventive running from Boy, Moalosi and Motsholetsi Sikele.

When the second half commenced, Orapa United looked reinvigorated, refreshed and ready to take the battle to Rollers by playing counter-attacking football.

However, for all their threats infront of Kgosipula's goals their efforts came to naught.

As the game grew, older tempers flared after United scored their opener and referee Joshua Bondo had to stamp his authority by cautioning Obonye Moswate and Motlhabankwe.

The game also ended in a depressing note for United as Ronald Chikomo who had started from the bench was given a red card for dangerous play on the Township Rollers goalkeeper.

The 215/16 Mascom Top 8 champions left the pitch in despair. Even after reducing the deficit to 4-2, it was evident that the day belonged to Township Rollers and no amount of desperate attacks could overturn the score line.

United coach Bongani Mafu explained that they let the game fly away in the first half, noting that Rollers was not better than them tactically.

Consequently, he conceded that their opponents were first on the ball.

However, he bemoaned the fact that his striker collected a red card when the team was showing signs of clawing back into the game.

For his part, Kavazovic expressed delight with the performance and said the result was a consequence of the tactics they deployed on the day.

Source : BOPA

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