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Wagarre Dikago saved a crucial penalty in the first half

BONGANI MALUNGA

Township Rollers managed to score a crucial away goal against Young Africans in the first leg of the CAF Champions League preliminary stage this past weekend. The sides recorded a 1-1 draw in Tanzania, with Phenyo Serameng scoring for Popa while Patrick Sibomana’s late penalty spared the home team’s blushes.

Serameng put Rollers in the lead in the 7th minute with a wonderfully curled effort. The home side was then sprung into life and their relentless pressure was rewarded in the 30th minute as a defensive mix up between Kamogelo Matsabu and Ofentse Nato resulted in a penalty for Young Africans with the latter handling the ball in the box.

Popa goalkeeper Wagarre Dikago showed nerves of steel as he calmly palmed away Sibomana’s first half penalty to keep Rollers’ lead intact, the momentum of scoring an equalizer would have been worrying for Popa but Dikago’s heroics prevented that.

With Rollers failing to make the game safe by scoring a second goal, the home side pushed for an equalizer and they were rewarded with yet another penalty in the 86th minute. Sibomana, despite missing a first penalty in the first half, dusted himself off and took the spot kick responsibility once again.

The pressure of salvaging a draw in the last few minutes of the game did not faze Sibomana this time as he slotted the ball home with relative ease, sending Dikago the wrong way. Although Rollers were unlucky not to win the game they will be encouraged by avoiding defeat away from home and securing an important away goal.

Rollers will get a chance to take matters into their own hands in the second leg in Gaborone next week Friday. In another game that could be of interest to Rollers and Young Africans, ZESCO United won 2-0 away from home against Green Mamba FC. The winner of the ZESCO-Green Mamba tie will face either Rollers or Young Africans in the next round.

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