- Township Rollers are log leaders with 10 points and an unbeaten record
- Gaborone United have nine points, a clean sheet and a game in hand
Botswana’s most historic sports rivalry between Gaborone United and Township Rollers will take centre stage in what is always the biggest of Gabs derbies when the two clash at the National Stadium over the weekend, the 26 November.
The old foes will meet in a highly-anticipated match billed by many as an early litmus test for this season’s title decider.
When two sides met in Francistown in the first round of the last season of the league, Gaborone United claimed the bragging rights with a solitary goal through Thatayaone Kgamanyane who is still the danger man in the GU squad.
Rollers unbeaten record
Controversy of the second round aside, Township Rollers got its own back at Royal Aria Stadium in Tlokweng when they emerged with a 1-nil victory, courtesy of Ivorian forward Aaron Marc Dion.
Township Rollers, who are the current log leaders, head into the match with an unbeaten record after collecting 10 points from a possible 12 while Gaborone United have collected nine points with a game in hand.
“Popa,” as Rollers are affectionately known in football circles, have played four games, with the latest victory coming from their 3-nil win over Nico United at the National Stadium last Sunday.
“The Money Machine,” on the other hand, had their match postponed due to their many players’ assignment with the senior national team that played against Angola in South Africa last week.
GU’s clean sheet
In their three-match win, Gaborone United have not conceded a goal while Rollers have conceded just once. Gaborone United’s Marketing and Communications Manager, Herbert Letsebe, told Gazette Sports that their preps are going well.
“All the players are available except for Obonye Maome who will miss out due to injury but he has started light training,” he said. “We also have Alford Velaphi who has missed the last few games.”
Maome characterised the derby as one of the most important games to win for their supporters. “We have won all our first three games and would like to keep up the momentum because it is our objective to defend our league title and we have an unfished business in Africa,” Letsebe said.
He added that they would like to become perennial campaigners in the CAF champions league and thus boost the quality of the domestic league.
“Player’s motivation comes in different ways,” he said. “Taking care of the players and adhering to what you agreed with them is a major way of keeping them motivated.
“Having to play the league without a sponsor is of course demotivating for the club but not for the players. The players do not go into a match because there is money at stake. They play for different reasons and have ambitions to play outside Botswana.”
For their part, Township Rollers mouthpiece Phempheretlhe Pheto said even though the attention was completely on their weekend game against Nico, the team is always ready to play matches. The Gaborone derby, he added, has always been an enjoyable fixture for their players.
“Our attention was on our game against Nico United,” Pheto said. “What I can say is that we are always ready and I am sure the players need little motivation to bring positive results.”