This season’s Mascom Top 8 competition has served up thrills and spills which have kept fans and neutrals entertained.On-fi eld brilliance and off- field controversies have ensured that the competition was the most talked about event in local football.The competition was Botswana’s only knockout competition this season because the FA Challenge Cup(formerly known as the Coca-Cola Cup) was shelved until next season.The build up to the tournament was overshadowed by the Botswana Premier League’s decision to host all quarterfi nal ties at the Molepolole Sports Complex.
This denied teams such as BMC,Nico United and Ecco City Greens the chance to have home advantage in other legs of the quarterfi nal ties.Despite those grievances, the competition went on and provided entertaining matches.All participants had cried foul after the Botswana Premier League failed to pay them match fees, but the matter was resolved after the BPL explained that they were unable to pay the agreed match fees and the teams would instead get part of the gate takings in the next rounds.The competition seemed characterized by off-field controversy,until the semi-fi nal stages that were a display of attacking football ensured that the competition started gaining attention for on- fi eld performances.Twenty goals were scored in four semi-final matches, as former champions Township Rollers and early tournament favourites Mochudi Centre Chiefs were on the receiving end of emphatic defeats.
Gaborone United and BDF XI were the best teams in this year’s tournament and their passage to the final was an indication of their prowess.The final United won an ill-tempered match against BDF XI to ensure that they will not end the season empty- handed. The highly anticipated match featured a red card,numerous yellow cards and a debatable goal. The Money Machine won the game 2-1 after goals from Tebogo Sembowa and Ronald Chikomo, while Francis Kanda scored for BDF XI.Matebele’s goalkeeper, Michael Pepukani, received a red card after kicking out at an opponent. The sending off helped GU to preserve their lead in the game and eventually claim a 2-1 victory. The win represents a successful return to local football for David Bright; the veteran coach has spent most of the past six years in the South African leagues.
His side created the best chances of the match and their counter at-tacking play caused problems for Letang Kgengwenyane’s troops. In the end GU were worthy winners as they showed more hunger to win,according to football analysts.Possible player of the tournament The prize money for winning the award will be P40 000. Gazette Sport has enlisted three players who could be lined up to win the Best Player award.Sembowa has been the most consistent performer in the tournament since last year. His goal created history as he became the fi rst player to score in two consecutive finals for different clubs last year he scored for Township Rollers against Ecco in the fi rst ever Mascom Top 8 final. His four goals this season have helped him stake his claim for the Player of the Tournament award.Chikomo has also scored four goals in the tournament; he has been a constant threat to defenders throughout the tournament. He has also been a regular starter in thecompetition and his partnership with Sembowa and Moemedi Motlhaping has been the highlight of the club’s cup run.
The Zambian striker played a vital role in the fi nal as he dropped back to support the midfi eld on many occasions and helped the side when attacking as well; he scored in the final to prove his importance to Moyagoleele’s cup campaign.BDF XI’s Ofentse Mmipi has also performed well this season.His match winning displays against Mochudi Centre Chiefs were the catalyst for his side’s passage to the final. He remains the only player to have won two consecutive ‘Man of the Match’ awards in the competition.The midfielder scored three goals to stand alongside the tournament’s top scorers. Yellow Boot race With three players tied on four goals each, the tournament’s organizers will have a diffi cult task of determining the winner of the Yellow Boot award. Chikomo, Sembowa and Lemponye Tshireletso have all registered four goals in the tourney.In international tournaments the top scorer award is normally awarded to the player with the most assists among the top goalscorers in case of a tie; it remains to be seen what criteria will be used by Mascom to determine the winner of the P20, 000 award.