Baptism of Fire for Galaxy in Tunis

  • Coach attributes loss to late adaptation

Gazette Reporter

A cold reception greeted Jwaneng Galaxy’s first Champions League group stage match as their Tunisian hosts, Esperance Sportive de Tunis, were in a mean mood.

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Galaxy should count themselves lucky after escaping with a 4-0 drubbing when it could have gone worse for them that afternoon in North Africa

The Jwaneng outfit, in the group stages for the first time in their history, were 3-0 behind inside the first half-hour and appeared headed for a heavier defeat.

However, they managed to limit the damage to just one more goal, although it was hardly the result they had envisaged.

Galaxy’s South African coach Morena Ramoreboli had been confidence personified when the team touched down in cold Tunis after a long flight from Johannesburg, telling the media that his boys would give their all as they had studied their opponents.

“We have seen their strengths and weaknesses and know what to do,” he said.

But despite the extensive video watching that the Galaxy technical team had done, Esperance, who are among the continent’s heavyweights, proved too much for the debutants.

By the 32 minute, the host striker’s Ben Romdhane had plundered a hat-trick as Galaxy were pegged back as early as the first minute. Romdhane breached the Galaxy defence again in quick order in the 30th and 32nd minute as the visitors looked lost. For his first goal, Romdhane fired a rocket from just outside the box and goalkeeper Ezekiel Morake could only watch as the net stretched on impact behind him.

The striker had struck the ball home in the 30th minute by beating the keeper to his near post before returning just two minutes later to pass the ball into the net when the Galaxy defence was caught napping.

From then on it was mere damage control with Galaxy on a rearguard action punctuated by sporadic ‘enemy’ raids that could have yielded another goal. Galaxy kept the North Africans at bay until they returned again to harvest the fourth goal in the 86th minute through Kingsley Eduwo. The ginger-haired forward beat a jittery Morake with a weak low shot that brushed the keeper’s gloves on its way in.

Ramoreboli said his team were slow to adapt and Esperance took full advantage.

“We delayed to adapt to what they were doing,” he admitted in the post-match interview. “In our preparations, we knew that they would attack on the left side. I think we delayed to respond. What we were doing right was to track them to inner spaces but we delayed when they were overlapping.

“It was not necessarily an issue of experience. We were not winning the ball as quickly as possible. I won’t say we did not believe much in ourselves. We were slow and that knocked our confidence. We got chances in the second half but not as clear as the ones we got in the first half.”

Galaxy are the underdogs in Group C and the result left them bottom of the log. Esperance sit at the top ahead of Algeria’s CR Belouzidad and another Tunisian side, Etoile du Sahel who played out a 0-0 draw in what is a tough group.

Ramoreboli’s charges will look to quickly bouncing back when they host Etoile in Francistown due to unavailability of the Lobatse Sports Complex and the National Stadium that failed a CAF test in 2019.

It would be another difficult examination for Galaxy as Etoile are also a continental giant.

Galaxy were already punching above their weight by qualifying for the lucrative group stages, becoming only the second Botswana side to do so after Township Rollers.