The 2017/18 Mascom Top 8 season will certianly be the hardest to predict yet. All the four teams (Gaborone United, Jwaneng Galaxy, Orapa United and Township Rollers) that have made it to the semi finals have won the coveted silverware that comes with a P1,3 million pay cheque after only five games.
Following this year’s Mascom Top 8 semi final draw in Gaborone this past Tuesday, it will remain to be seen which of the teams proceeds to the final. The Mascom Top 8 draw saw Gaborone United pitted against Orapa United while Township Rollers will face Galaxy FC.
Even a fortune teller with a crystal ball will have a hard time predicting which of the teams proceed to the final. On paper, it is Township Rollers who will come in a favourites given their current form.
However, juggling the BTC premiership, CAF champs league and Top 8 might work against undefeated Gaborone giants. Two time Top 8 winners Gaborone United will come in as second favourites given their current form in the league campaign. Nevewrtheless both Orapa United and Jwaneng Galaxy are tough customers when it come to chasing cup glory.
The ‘Money machine’ as GU is affectionately known by its hordes of supporters gained their spot to the semi-finals after walloping Extension Gunners by three goals to two at Francistown Sports complex towards the end of last year. Currently GU are the only team to have won the Mascom Top 8 trophy twice and it will remain to be seen as to whether the on form team will once again enter their names in the history books of local football. GU first won Top 8 trophy back in 2013 afterbeating BDF XI by two goals against one before they ran away with the trophy for the second time after walloping their bitter rivals Township Rollers by yet another two goals against 1 in 2015. It is also worth noting that the MmaMasire based outfit made history to be the very first team to lay its hands on the lucrative trophy when it was first introduced in 2012 only for them to be denied a second chance by Orapa United who drubbed them 3-0 during the 2016 finals.
In the event Gaborone United makes it to the finals, they will rely on their current on form striker Obonwe Maome who single handedly buried Extension Gunners through a hat trick against their two goals at Francistown Sports when the two teams met for their second leg encounter which meant that Moyagoleele proceeded to the semi-finals by a 6-2 goal aggregate.Meanwhile Township Rollers won the Top 8 after beating Ecco City Greens 3-1 during the 2011/12 season. During the 2015/16 season Orapa United beat Rollers 3-1 to win the Top 8 in Francistown. The defending Top 8 champions Jwaneng Galaxy beat Orapa United 4-3 in an absolute Top 8 thriller last season.
Two time Mascom Top 8 champions Gaborone United (GU) believe they can win the lucrative tournament for the third time.
The Gaborone outfit are the most successful club in the Mascom Top 8 having won the tournament during the 2012/13 and 2014/15 seasons. The Money machine previously beat the likes of BDF XI and Township Rollers to win their two titles.
In an interview this week GU Media liaison Katlo Lone said their objective to demolish every team that goes on field with them remains unchanged. Lone was speaking in an interview following the Top 8 season seven semi-finals draw held in Gaborone this past Tuesday. GU face Orapa United while Township Rollers face Jwaneng Galaxy in the semi finals. According to Lone, the semi draw came out exactly as they had hoped because they were looking for any other team besides Township Rollers in the semi-finals.
“I am happy with the outcome of the draw, this is what I had anticipated, any team from the mining towns and then Rollers in the final,” she said. “We are only going all out to win and I have faith in the boys because they are working hard and looking fresh,” Lone said.
An optimistic Lone said their players have been performing well in the Top 8 championships giving them a much greater competitive edge over the Orapa side. “We have an upper hand over our opponents because we want continue writing history by winning the Top 8 trophy for the third time. This will make us the only team to ever do that since the tournament inception in 2012.”
“We are happy with our coach Rudolph Zapata’s approach to football. His methods are rather hard to execute at times but the boys work well with him and I believe he will put in place a strategy that will set us apart against the rest of the teams.” In addition, Lone said that she remains optimistic because Zapata has been training the team play a much more attractive football that is back with a winning mentality while they move forward to make goals.
Moreover, Lone said that they also working on helping their players win individual awards such as the game of the match and she is confident that they will bag with them the prestigious awards. “Already in the whole tournament this season there has been a record 21 goals scored across all the matches what makes it more exciting is our player, Obonye Maome is leading the top goal scorer table with five goals.”
Meanwhile GU Supporter, Kaelo Motshidisi said that it was time Batswana witness what he dubbed total dominance because they are going to make a clean sweep over Orapa United in the semi-finals. “We will make it through to the finals with ease and because we have what it takes to be crowned champions once more with the right personnel especially in headcoach Zapata,” he said. “We also have a greater opportunity to win the trophy because Rollers being our biggest rivals in the remaining teams they are faced with pressure because they are tasked to play the CAF Champions league tournament together with the 2017/18 BTC Premier league and the Top 8 so we have more focus than they do,” said Motshidisi
In the other Top 8 contest Township Rollers will face Jwaneng Galaxy for a place in the finals. They will play two legs in the home and away basis.
The Mascom Top 8 Cup, ‘Tse Di Tona’ knockout tournament has undoubtedly brought a touch of both glitz and glamour to local top-flight football.
The thrill and spills witnessed during the Mascom Top 8 final clash between Jwaneng Galaxy and Orapa United over the weekend was the sort of high stakes football game local supporters have been yearning for. Nevertheless there have been doubts on whether the mobile phone service producer will return as Top 8 sponsors following the conclusion of their contract with the Botswana Football Association.
Nevertheless, the Saturday game may definitely keep the sponsors on board as Francistown Sports Complex was filled with many supporters who came to witness history as Jwaneng Galaxy, who came into the game as underdogs, humiliated the defending Champions Orapa United to bag the P1.2 Million prize money.
It is evident how the popularity of the tournament has steadily grown and in the process, has become an integral part of the football community. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen if the Cup tournament shall continue to be the apple pie of many local football enthusiasts.
The contract between Botswana Premier League (BPL) and the title sponsors of the tournament, Mascom, comes to an end this year. Mascom has been sponsoring the tournament since 2011. It remains a mystery whether Mascom will want to renew their contract or not, given the negativity that has surrounded local football.
However, BPL Acting CEO, Thabo Ntshinogang said in an interview this week that they have expressed interest of continuing the partnership through a formal letter. He explained that their contract will elapse shortly after the Mascom Top 8 awards to be hosted sometime in May or June. Ntshinogang noted that for the past six years, they have been enjoying a cordial working relationship with Mascom. “The tournament helped our local teams participate internationally which also assisted our senior national team perform better,” he said.
He said it is through the Mascom Top 8 tournament that local players find the opportunity to showcase their talents outside the premier league. Ntshinogang said they are ready to fasten their belts and look for other alternatives in order to keep the tournament alive, should Mascom decide otherwise. On the other hand, Mascom remained cagey about the sponsorship matter, saying that they are yet to review the past season of the tournament and will share the evaluation with partners, Botswana Premier League.
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.
The reigning 2015/16 Mascom Top 8 champions Orapa United are expected to compete in the CAF Confederations cup this year.
Orapa spokesperson Tebatso Hule recently confirmed that the club has finalised their registration for the continental showpiece. Hule explained that they are ready to take on continental rivals. “We have met all requirements and registered for the tournament through the Botswana Football Association (BFA),” he said.
The CAF Confederations cup is the second Club tournament in Africa after the Champions league (CAF) and the Ostriches will be debutants in the tournament. This will come as a major feat for a club founded just over five years ago. The Ostriches gained promotion to top-flight football in the 2013/2014 season.
The Boteti based outfit was established as a common objective for the residents of the area to invest on a single team in a bid to gain promotion to the top league. The team has since shattered expectations and become legitimate league title contenders.
Having come close to wining the BTC Premiership cup on numerous occasions and ultimately winning their first-ever silverware, the Mascom Top 8 last season the Ostriches are expected to pose a serious threat in the competition.
“This is an opportunity for our players to expose themselves to the African giant teams. As the Orapa United brand, we have good players and I believe we are a good team to compete in the tournament,” Hule said.He explained that the intention of the team is to go as far as they can in the tournament, adding that the club is financially stable for travelling and any other expenses will not be a challenge for the BTC Premiership log leaders.
Participating in Africa has proven to be a daunting task for Southern African Clubs. Meanwhile, the triumph of South African PSL club Mamelodi Sundowns in the Caf Champions league will come as a great inspiration to the Ostriches.
We all wait with bated breath in the hope that the P1 million prize money for the Mascom Top 8 final between Rollers and Gaborone United tomorrow at the National Stadium will revive interest in the already fading Gaborone derby.
The derby used to be a crowd puller. Remember the classic 1993 Coca-Cola final when Rollers faced their feared rivals Gaborone United at the packed National Stadium? Word on every lip in the capital was about the derby. Both sides had crowd pullers with the likes of Peter Mpharanyane Mabile, Desmond Molefe, Richard Kwapa, the Zambian Joseph Chikoti and the youthful Keitumetse Pio Paul on the Rollers’ bench. GU- the Money Machine-was on a winning spree, taking every cup on offer which included Gilbeys Cup. Their cream included the Zimbabwean Mandla Balanda, the late Terence Mophuting, Patrick Zibochwa and City Senne, who would on any day blow United’s crazy supporters.
On that fateful final GU were the favourites on paper based on their momentum and form. It was a mammoth task for Rollers. They decided on the day to play mind games; instead of entering the stadium through the Pandamatenga gate, they opted for the Grand stand entrance. To the dismay of both GU players and supporters, Rollers conducted their warm up on the hard surface behind Grand stand. And when the whistle was blown, Rollers played with conviction and passion. For GU, pride and dominance was at stake in that final. Rollers shocked GU with a 4-1 win to be crowned Coca-Cola Champions. This result was however not a true reflection of the game. GU had fought gallantly and dominated but Rollers managed to utilise their chances. But it was a treat for supporters, as they left the stadium gaping for more action.
In past years a derby between these two foes has been a signature for local football. However the same cannot be said for the Millennium era players who play only for money than any other consideration. This contrast with the past when giving it all to be recognised was the most priced asset of a player. Players didn’t have salaries. Salaries were only reserved for foreigners but local players would only get incentives when they win matches. Players would stick to their beloved teams because of love. They would feel proud for playing for them. Now football is business. Players are paid handsomely.
The two clubs –Rollers and GU-have sound management and sound sponsors. Despite attracting best players in the land a captivating epic derby has remained a pie in the sky for supporters. In this Saturday final between these rivals, the P1million prize money could rekindle interest in the derby. Currently both sides boast of experienced players. It seems that winning Top 8 silverware is the only thing both teams can show as success for this season, since the league honours remain a far-fetched dream. Rollers are slowly losing their title defence to Mochudi Centre Chiefs.
However their last week results might indicate that supporters will be treated to an entertaining final. GU drew 2-2 with BDFXI, an indication that they can score and concede. On the other hand Rollers had to restore their pride by beating BMC 5-1 which showed that they too can score can score goals but also concede when placed under pressure. On paper Rollers are the favourites to win the Top 8 final basing on their recent performances and squad. They have seasoned campaigners who have in the past formed the backbone of the national team. Last season they went to the final for the same competition only to lose against BDF in a penalty shootout. GU boasts of a talented squad which has in the past flattered to deceive. More is still expected from them. The battle is between the two Zimbabwean coaches- Mandinda Ndlovu of Rollers and GU’s Rahman Gumbo.
They grew up and played together at national team national level and their boyhood club, Bulawayo Highlanders in Zimbabwe. They find themselves battling it out in their career-defining encounter. Their contracts are ending this season. A win for either party could bring a sense of belief from the employer and perhaps a contract extension. A win for Ndlovu will be a historic feat as his first local cup success. Both sides have each won this competition once with Rollers being the first team to win it and GU the next. Tempers are expected to fly high in the process to ignite the spark which has been missing in this league defining derby. The winner will not only celebrate silverware but will also become the first team to win it twice.