- Rollers to earn at least P5.5 million for group stage qualification
- First group game on the weekend of May 4th
- Rollers qualify for group stages at the 10th attempt, ending 37 year curse
Local heroes Township Rollers will learn their CAF Champions League group stage opponents tomorrow (Wednesday). The Nikola Kavazovic led club recorded a historic feat by becoming the first ever Botswana club to enter the prestigious and gruelling CAF Champions group stage this past weekend.
Rollers will have a clear picture of their three group opponents in a few days. Their first group game will be on the weekend of May 4 while their last group game will be on the week of 28-29 August. The club will have up to a week to prepare for their first group game, their league game against UF Santos will be on April 29 as there will be no midweek fixture and the club will have enough time to prepare for their weekend CAF fixture.
Kavazovic’s side held Tanzanian outfit Young Africans to a 0-0 draw at the National Stadium and progressed 2-1 on aggregate having won the first leg away from home. Popa are now among some of Africa’s best pool of clubs awaiting the group stage draw, they are in the company of seeded clubs such as Al Ahly, TP Mazembe and Wydad Casablanca among many others.
The Gaborone giants have finally ended a 37 year curse that had seen them fail to make it to the group stages, they had previously been unsuccessful in nine attempts stretching back to their African participation debut in 1981, this weekend proved to be ‘10th time lucky’ for the club as they have finally joined Africa’s elite clubs.
Rollers will cash in at least P5.5 million ($550 000) for being in the group stages, which is given to the bottom two teams in the group stages, they also stand to make a guaranteed P6.5 million if they advance to the quarter-finals, they could also cash in P8 million if they advance to the semifinals. The runners up spot has a cash prize of P12.5 million while winning the tournament commands a cash prize of P25 million.
How Rollers prepared for their CAF Champions League adventure
Rollers’ spokesman, Bafana Pheto told Gazette Sport that the journey to reach the group stages started with a training camp that they organised in June, a month before other clubs began their pre-season training.
“Our qualification for the group stages is a result of a plan we started earlier than everyone else. Players reported for training camp in June while every other team was still still on break, we started our pre-season early and we even went to South Africa where we were hosted by Platinum Stars. We also participated in the Maize Cup tournament. Before the season started we had three goals; to win the Mascom Top 8, to reach the group stage of the Champions League and to win the league. We have achieved 80 percent of our targets and we are now aiming to achieve the last target, which is to win the league,” Pheto told this publication.
Pheto also revealed that the club has spent over P800 000 for their two away trips to Sudan and Tanzania respectively in the previous rounds, the costs include travelling, accommodation as well as food among many, he stated that the P800 000 figure excludes the expenses they incurred for hosting their opponents in Gaborone.