Gaborone’s cross town rivals, Gaborone United and Township Rollers have become a mainstay in the Mascom Top 8 finals in the last four years.
Each of the finals since the inception of the competition has featured either Rollers or GU. In 2012, Rollers reached the final via a semifinal win over GU. The latter did likewise as they reached the 2013 final, last season Rollers reached the final and eventually lost to BDF XI.
The Top 8 clash will surely be the last chance of earning silverware as both teams are seemingly out of league title contention. The opposing coaches, Madinda Ndlovu and Rahman Gumbo, are yet to sign contract extensions at their respective clubs and the school of thought within the local football fraternity is that their positions could depend on winning the match.
It will be a battle between the top scorers of the competition (Rollers with 12 goals) and a club with the best defensive record (GU with only 3 goals conceded).
Rollers captain Sekhana Koko told Gazette Sport that they will be motivated by last season’s cup final loss. “Last season we made a mistake by allowing BDF XI to send us to penalties, we have to convert our chances. We have to start the game well and avoid trailing, our goal is to take control of the game. We have not been playing as well as we would like in the league but we want to finish the season with silverware. Our aim is to become the first team to lift the cup twice. The team is confident, we have no new injuries and we are ready for GU,” said Koko.
GU’s midfield dynamo Alphonse Modisaotsile acknowledges that the game will be tightly contested but confidently predicted his side would win. “It is going to be a tough battle, both sides will not want to finish the season empty handed. It is always a difficult test whenever we face off, the midfield battle has to be won if we stand any chance of winning the game. They won 5-1 in their last game, over the weekend they will be the favourites and we will embrace the underdog tag with the aim of using it to our advantage,” Modisaotsile stated.
He also named Jerome Louis as the opposing side major threat. “He has a knack of scoring against us, he will be fired up for the game and we have to be prepared to numb his abilities. They have numerous players who could cause problems for us such as Segolame Boy and Dirang Moloi among others,” the midfielder concluded.
Records at stake
Mogakolodi Ngele’s six goal haul in the 2012 edition of the cup remains intact, last season Jerome Louis came close to equalling it with five goals. This season’s top scorer, Boy, has netted four times this season to assume the lead in the cup’s scoring chart. A brace or more for the Rollers forward would see him equal or surpass the three year record held by Ngele.
GU’s road to the final
FC Satmos 0-3 GU (first leg)
GU 4-1 FC Samos (second leg)
GU 2-1 Nico United (first leg)
Nico United 0-1 GU (second leg)
Rollers’ road to the final
Motlakase 1-3 Rollers (first leg)
Rollers 5-0 Motlakase (second leg)
BDF XI 1-2 Rollers (first leg)
Rollers 2-1 BDF XI (second leg)
Mascom Top 8 team of the season so far
Goalkeeper: Goitseone Phoko: An outstanding goal minder who is quickly establishing himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the country. He is the only goalkeeper to win a man of the match award in the competition.
Right-back: Osego Gaotewe: The touchline hugging fullback has been a class above the rest amongst the right-backs in the country. His crossing prowess and industrial displays have been helpful to GU’s progress and impressive defensive record.
Central defenders: Obuile Ncenga and Thabiso Khunwane – Contrasting defenders in terms of their style of play but they provide the same defensive stability for their respective teams. Ncenga personifies robust and tough tackling displays while Khunwane brings a calming presence to his side.
Left-back: Edwin Olerile: His versatility makes him an asset to GU. He has been one of the club’s leading defensive stalwarts.
Right-wing: Mandla Mgadla: The winger has been effective in terms of supplying his fellow forwards. Mgadla has been a consistent performer in his position.
Central midfielders: Richard Legwaila and Alphonse Modisaotsile: Legwaila was the first player to have scored a hat trick in the competition, from a defensive midfield position, surpassing the achievements of most offensive players. Modisaotsile adds steel to GU’s midfield, his man of the match award on the eve of the final is proof of his importance to his side.
Left wing: Kobamelo Kebaikanye: A virtuoso performance against Motlakase propelled Rollers to a comfortable win in the quarterfinals. He has been the unsung hero in Rollers’ surge to the final, a talented winger with an eye for goal.
Forwards: Segolame Boy and Benson Shilongo: Boy has been the shining light of Rollers’ cup run. He is in line to win the Yellow Boot award if his scoring rivals do not surpass him. GU’s Shilongo has an impressive scoring rate of three goals in four games, to say he has been a nuisance to opposing defenders would be an understatement.