The final push for the P1million beMOBILE Premiership trophy begins this weekend as does the jostling for a place in the top eight and the heated battle to avoid relegation.
The race for the league championship is arguably between three teams – log leaders Township Rollers, defending champions Mochudi Centre Chiefs and the stubborn Orapa United. The trio boasts players that have shown determination and a never say die attitude. Thus they have kept their supporters and technical teams dreaming and convinced they can run the race to the finish line without a stumble.
For this weekend in Molepolole, Patrick ‘Waka Waka’ Lenyeletse carries the hopes of Madinda Ndlovu as the mining town side takes on Gaborone United on Saturday. His experience of tasting glory in 2006 with the fallen ECCO City Greens, as well as playing for Mochudi Centre Chiefs and being called for the national team have given the lanky forward the kind of confidence that makes him believe that the league crown is not outside their reach.
Lenyeletse has proven handy for his team, especially when the chips are down. When their enterprising youngster Thabang Sesinyi is not on target on a particular day, it is him who rises to the occasion as a goal poacher, especially when receiving deadly passes from the ever hard-working Ronald Chikomo.
In the same breath, his glovesman Mosimanegape Roberts has aided their cause by denying their opponents glory most of the times. The goal minder has a special record in the league for conceding fewer goals this season. His form proves that his national team call up was not by fluke. These are the two who could prove very instrumental in beating the Reds and eventually landing the championship for the first time in history in the mining town of Orapa.
The other league aspirants, Rollers have three important players in their team - Joel Mogorosi, Segolame Boy and Kabelo Dambe. Since his arrival Mogorosi has given Popa a new look and dimension. His leadership skills cannot be underestimated and he has been instrumental in cheering his teammates on to hard-fought victories as a captain, the position he took over from Sekhana Koko who is now serving as a player/coach.
Above all else, Mogorosi’s love for scoring goals has ensured Rollers’supporters keep thronging the match venues for more. Boy too, is an entertainer and crowd puller. He has won the beMOBILE’s supporters’ player of the month award on numerous occasions and has indeed been influential in Rollers’ success story this season.
When he was away on injury, Rollers huffed and puffed in both the league and cup games towards the end of 2015. They lost to Police XI in the Mascom Top 8 quarter final and lost two points against Orapa United in Orapa in his absence. His recent return from injury could not have happened at a better time for Mapalastina who travel to Jwaneng to face Galaxy FC on Sunday. The Jwaneng side will have to contend with a solid Rollers’ defence marshalled by the safe hands of Kabelo Dambe in the goalposts. Dambe is a good communicator in organising his defence, and has conceded few goals just like Roberts.
Defending champions Mochudi Centre Chiefs will rely on their special player Lemponye ‘FC ‘Tshireletso who won the top scorer accolade last season. He has continued in his scintillating form this season by scoring vital winning goals for his outfit despite playing as a left winger for Chiefs. As the team from Kgatleng hosts a struggling Sankoyo Bush Bucks this Saturday evening, Tshireletso is once again expected to be instrumental in aiding his mates to vicrory.
There is also Lesego Galenamotlhala, a utility and most importantly, hardworking player who has become the envy of many. He excelled as a midfielder in the last season but it is in his current role as central defender that he has shattered expectations.
The three title-contending giants look set for a test of character as the league resumes after a break stretching three weeks. On paper Chiefs look like they can make away with a comfortable victory while the duels involving Rollers and Orapa United remain tricky.
As for the fight for a top eight finish, all eyes are on Extension Gunners, a war-torn side which is yet to survive its internal wrangles. They have employed their legendary player and mentor Daniel Nare, who will be pinning his hopes on his protégé, Kemmy Pilato, a player on fire and has managed to find the back of the net regularly over their recent games. Gunners also have Mosimanegape Ntwaetsile, the stocky midfielder who was converted to center back. He is the nerve centre in the Gunners’ defence, and as they host FC Satmos in Lobatse this Saturday, he should prove handy as despite his size, he has proven superior against strikers by winning aerial duels.
Sadiki Takunda of FC Satmos should prove key to their survival just like he fought for his club last season when he single-handedly ensured that Satmos beat Notwane during their relegation playoff matches. Currently Satmos is caught in the same maze with other relegation candidates who seem to be losing their most influential players. Motlakase, who host Police XI in Serowe on Saturday evening, are reported to be fighting to keep their stars Daniel Kedidimetse, Thato Kebue and Gape Mohutsiwa while Sankoyo Bush Bucks have lost their star players – Morris Ruzivo and Jackson Lesole - to other teams.
Fellow strugglers BR Highlanders and Green Lovers meet on Saturday afternoon in Serowe. Both are in a desperate situation and do not seem to have any special players to rescue them from the hovering relegation axe. On Friday evening, Gilport Lions visit the high-flying Miscellaneous in a game that kicks off at 1900hours. All other matches begin at 1600hours, including the Saturday match between Nico United and BDF XI in Selebi Phikwe.