Mascom Top 8 defending champions Orapa United will face the four-time competition finalists and the 2011/2012 champions Township Rollers at a date yet to be announced.
This was revealed at the Top 8 draw held at the Gaborone bus rank earlier this week. In another mouth-watering fixture, Top 8 rookies Jwaneng Galaxy will take on 2013/2014 champions BDF XI. The pairing of Orapa United and Township Rollers will be a repeat of last year’s final, which saw the former taking the coveted trophy after a 3-1 win. However, Popa popa are expected to come into the game with a score to settle against Madinda Ndlovu’s charges.
Following the well-attended draw ceremony, Popa mouthpiece Bafana Pheto welcomed the draw, adding that it will mean a different match from last year’s final. “We needed to play Orapa United at this time because this is a two-legged game. We lose the first game we get a chance to prepare and correct what we did wrong in the first game.” Rollers won the first edition of the Mascom Top 8 in the 2011/2012 season when they beat Francistown’s Ecco City Greens 3-1 to claim the prestigious trophy. Mapalastina have appeared four times during the tournament’s six-year history.
It remains to be seen whether Rollers caretaker coach Thabo Motang can overcome the highflying Ostriches. Should Rollers progress to the finals they would have missed only one final being the 2012/2013 final. “With the current squad that we have I don’t see Orapa United winning against us, I believe the fact that we do not have a coach will not affect our proceedings in the tournament. Thabo Motlang has worked under many diverse coaches here and we are confident he will lead the team very well.” Said Pheto. Orapa United will look to carry on their decent run and rise to conquer the local footballing fraternity. A place in the final for the Boteti based outfit will mean they increase their chances to be in the history books as they will be the first team to win the cup back to back should they win it.
This week, Orapa United spokesperson Tebatso Hule said they have been preparing for the tournament for the past three months. “We are ready for the semifinal, we are not afraid of Rollers, we believe in our squad,” he said. “We are not under any pressure as the champions but we are aiming to reclaim our championship we do not fear any team whatsoever but I would like it if we could face Jwaneng Galaxy in the final.” On the flipside, Jwaneng Galaxy are aspiring to be the rookie champions as this is their first-ever participation in the tournament. For his part, Galaxy spokesperson, Thabang Moutlwaditse said they desire to be the rookie champions of the 6th edition tournament. “A few teams have won the tournament as rookies so we can do it too, we came here primed for any team, I think it was a fair draw after all.”
Galaxy is a team with limited history but they can write their name in the history books as they face former champions BDF XI in the two-legged semi finals. Galaxy has a broad squad, which is able to compete and if things go well by them they can be crowned champions at the end of the tournament. On the other hand, BDF XI have an aim of equaling Gaborone United who have the most (2) Mascom Top 8 titles under their belt. However BDF XI know what they are up against in the semi-final of the coveted trophy.
“We are aware of how much of a great team Galaxy is, they are not here by fluke, we do not perceive them as underdogs anymore they are a competitive side, nonetheless I am happy that we are facing them, we are going to give them the respect they deserve,” BDF spokesperson Pius Kolagano said.
Kolagano added that the team is not in any way under pressure to win the title. “We are on the list of clubs who have claimed the cup before we cannot be under pressure only rookies in the tournament can be under pressure.” Matebele, the 2013/2014 champions, will fight tooth and nail to see their name on the Mascom Top 8 trophy for the second time. Luis Setshwane’s side will have a mountain to climb when they face the on-form Galaxy in a home and away game, but their experience in the tournament can take them all the way to the finals.