Rollers’ feint CAF hopes rest on Esperance

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BONGANI MALUNGA

Last month’s demoralizing 1-0 defeat to Egyptian giants Al Ahly at the National Stadium has left Township Rollers with feint hopes of progressing beyond the group stage. The defeat has seen Rollers assume the third spot on the log, they are level on points with bottom side KCCA FC who they will face this weekend at the Mandela National Stadium in Uganda.

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The battle of the bottom sides will be crucial in either team’s aim of reaching the next round, both teams’ chances are slim and they are aware that a defeat will officially eliminate them from the competition, a draw would not do them any favours either.

Both teams are currently on win-less streaks in the competition, Rollers have suffered three straight defeats while KCCA have lost two successive games. The Ugandan side lost their last home game against Esperance last month and that could possibly boost Rollers’ chances, they are also the only team Rollers has beaten in the group.

Rollers’ away assignment requires them to gain maximum points and to also hope that Esperance win their home game against Al Ahly. Esperance have already qualified for the next round after collecting 10 points from four group games, the worst position they could garner is second place.

Popa are hoping that the rivalry between Esperance and Al Ahly will not see the former going easy on the game because they have already qualified. If Rollers win their away game and Esperance beat Al Ahly then the BTC Premiership champions will be only a point behind Al Ahly heading into the final round of fixtures in the group.

Nikola Kavazovic’s side will face an already qualified Esperance in the final Group A game on August 28 in Gaborone. If they win the next two games and Al Ahly drop points in their final two games then Popa could have a chance to go through to the next round.