The thrill of the popular Gaborone derby between BTC Premiership log leaders, Township Rollers and the struggling Gaborone United has undoubtedly died a slow and painful death. Even the upcoming match between the two sides scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday) at the national stadium in Gaborone might turn out to be yet another dull and zero vibe game. In the past, GU had established itself as Rollers hoodoo team.
In the recent past the Gaborone derby was held in high esteem and buzz would be created across the city as with supporters salivated over the revered football encounter that rarely disappointed.Supporters would on the day fill the stadium to the brim. The popularity of the derby was mainly due to the strong support base and the historic significance of both teams in the premier league.
However, throughout the recent years, performance and poor results downed the excitement. Not to mention the financial struggles that interfered both in and outside the pitch. The latest financial doldrums nearly crumbled the GU side to the ground, as they found themselves knee deep in debt. It seems things might soon normalize as GU officially reunites with their long-term sponsor, Nicholas Zakhem.
Both Rollers mouthpiece Bafana Pheto and Moyagoleele Chairman, Boitumelo Nsunge agree that the derby excitement is no more. Pheto blames it all on the lack of competition, “The morale has dropped and performance is stagnant, the game became a bore for supporters and they abandoned attending the games,” Pheto said.
The Rollers spokesperson says now when play against GU, it is more like they are playing one of the small teams in the league. In fact, the Kgatleng based outfit Mochudi Centre Chiefs (MCC) brings out the desired fanfare even in their darkest days. “With Chiefs, even when they are not doing well in the league, the rivalry is always noticeable,” Pheto said.
Pheto also added that the vibe of the derby has proved hard to sustain because when Rollers performs well, GU is struggling and when GU picks up the pace, Rollers are also facing their own struggles.Nsunge wants nothing more that the derby to be revived. He is thirsty for that Gaborone derby that will bring the capital to a total standstill.
“Funds allowing, we could have a motorcade on Saturday morning. Set the mood by painting the town red,” he said.However, the biggest task is to get supporters on board. Nsunge expressed concern that the fan base has pulled away but they are busy doing damage control and launching branches across the country.
He expressed confidence that the team will soon be up and rolling. “We are very close to making it official with Zakhem, only a few loose ends to tie,” he said. The last time GU managed a win against Rollers in a premier league match was back in 2016. However, during the inaugural 2018 BTC Charity Cup held in Gaborone in August, GU managed to rewrite the history books, beating Rollers 5-4 during penalty shootout.