The inaugural Orange FA Cup is set for a thrilling climax at the Francistown Sports Complex this weekend with familiar foes Orapa United and Township Rollers locking horns. Popa and the Ostriches will meet for the third time in a major local cup final in the last four years having met twice in the Mascom Top 8 final (2016 and 2018).
Labelling the favourites and the underdog in this tie would be an unenviable task for even the bravest of fans or pundits as none of the teams has shown any signs of weakness in the Orange FA Cup.
Both teams have been somewhat flawless in the competition with Orapa United being the top scorers of the tournament with 20 goals in four games while Rollers are the only club left in the competition yet to concede a goal, recording four consecutive shut outs. Football analyst Jimmy George believes that the game is tough to call given both teams’ strengths.
“This will be a tightly contested game, Mogomotsi Mpote knows Rollers well and for me he is great in terms of preparing for any opposition. The Orapa team will obviously draw confidence from their impressive campaign and from the technical team, Omaatla Kebatho and Mothusi Johnson have been in great form. They have the quality to give Rollers problems. Rollers can also call on Mothusi Cooper, Segolame Boy and Joel Mogorosi to inspire the team to victory. In a way the teams are equally matched, it will be a game of fine margins,” said George.
Orapa United winger Lemogang Maswena has revealed that the team has been training for the past three weeks and they have no major injuries ahead of the final. “We have been training for a while now and we also organized practice matches, our fitness levels are great. We have a clean bill of health as there are no injured players in the squad, Kobamelo Kebaikanye has just returned from injury. We will do our best in the final, we hope to make the fans proud by winning the FA Cup, it is our last chance to collect silverware this season. We know what to expect from Rollers, it will be a tough game but we are ready,” Maswena told Gazette Sport.
Rollers forward Mogorosi told this publication that he expects an entertaining game between the two teams. “A cup final is not easy to gauge but all fans are guaranteed an entertaining game. Orapa and Rollers always score numerous goals when they clash, we have scored four goals against them in a cup final and they have also scored three goals against us in a cup final before, there will be plenty of goals in this match. I hope and believe that the boys will come to the party in the final, we have to work extra hard and be at our best in order to win the game. Fans should come to Francistown in large numbers to view a great final,” sated Mogorosi.
How they reached the final
Rollers started their Orange FA Cup journey against lower league side Santa Green in the round of 32 , a game in which they won 3-0 courtesy of goals from Joel Mogorosi, Tumisang Orebonye and an own goal scored by Santa Green’s Thatayaone Mampadi.
After eliminating Santa Green, Rollers were handed a tricky tie against Extension Gunners in the last 16 and they avoided the potential ‘banana skin’ by beating Gunners 1-0 with Edwin Moalosi scoring the only goal of the game.
Rollers then ended Kazungula Fighters’ fairytale run in the competition with Mothusi Cooper netting the all-important goal in the quarterfinal encounter. Popa had Premier League opposition in their way again in the semifinal as they faced BDF XI, they won the game 2-0 with Ofentse Nato and Joel Mogorosi on the scoresheet.
Orapa United started their FA Cup adventure with an emphatic 10-0 victory over Peace Makers in the round of 32. Kebatho led Orapa’s fine offensive display by netting four goals, Maswena and Gofaone Mabaya both registered two goals apiece while Unobatsha Mbaiwa and Kobamelo Kebaikanye rounded off the scoring in the 10-0 feast.
The last 16 stage saw Mpote’s side beating Sand Diamonds 4-0 through goals from Kebaikanye, Kebatho and two own goals from Diamonds players. The first big test for Orapa came in the form of former Ostriches employee Daniel ‘Chicco’ Nare and his Security Systems side in the quarterfinal stage. Goals from Mabaya and Kebaikanye were enough to send the Orapa outfit to the last four with a 2-1 triumph.
In the semifinals, Orapa faced yet another potential stumbling block with Police XI standing in their way, the game was tightly contested and went to extra time. Orapa United won the game 4-1 after extra time, the team was rallied by goals from Mbatshi Elias, Onkemetse Powe, Maswena and Kebatho.