In the 2011/2012 season, Philemon Makhwengwe was brought in to replace Elvis Chiweshe and he managed to complete the rescue act by helping them finish in a respectable position in the league and also delivered silverware in the form of the 2012 Coca Cola Cup.
This season he was drafted in again to perform yet another rescue act, albeit with the club in a much worse state than in 2012, he has been tasked with motivating a squad which had gone through payment disputes and an unexpected coaching change.
Facing a 2-0 deficit in the first leg of this year’s Mascom Top 8 semifinal tie against Township Rollers, Makhwengwe’s United had a mountain to climb but they defied the odds by beating Rollers 2-0 in regulation time in the first leg before ending the game 3-1 ahead after extra time.
United managed to win the tie in a marathon penalty shootout as Joel Mogorosi’s missed effort proved to be the decider as GU progressed to the Mascom Top 8 final for the first time since 2015.
GU will now be aiming to become the first team to win the league on three occasions, they currently boast a 100 percent record in Top 8 finals having won the competition in 2013 against BDF XI and 2015 against Rollers. Makhwengwe told Gazette Sport that they had to focus on what they could do to Rollers and not dwell on the dangers posed by their opponents.
“Our game plan revolved around ourselves, we knew that we had to keep possession, to outsmart them and to be very calculated. We knew when exactly to score and how to defend immediately after we scored, it was very important for us to maintain our shape and our mentality. Rollers usually play a more direct and pace oriented system, we wanted to make them work hard to get the ball back, our passing game spread the pitch a lot more and made it hard for them to keep up at times,” Makhwengwe stated.
Moyagoleele’s coach revealed that he had instructed the players to enjoy the moment. “I was not under any sort of pressure, I was relaxed and it is important for the players to mirror their coach’s demeanor. I told them to believe in themselves, to be free. I told them that if Rollers can score twice against us we are also capable of outscoring them in the second leg, in a cup game the form book goes out of the window,” Makhwengwe added.
The coach concluded by praising Obonwe Maome who ended up making amends for his penalty miss in extra time by converting another spot kick during the penalty shootout. “He is a very good player, he needs a lot of freedom in order to succeed and he is doing just that. He needs just a few tweaks here and there to become a complete player because his potential is scary. I am always pushing him to reach a higher level and he has responded well, he is an asset,” Makhwengwe concluded.