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.
The 2017/18 BTC Premiership kicks into gear this weekend and perhaps the most compelling fixture will see Boteti’s Orapa United taking on the Mochudi Centre Chiefs at the Molepolole Sports Complex.
The main protagonist in this encounter will be the newly appointed Orapa headcoach Bongani Mafu. As things stand Mafu still has unfinished business with his former employers in Centre Chiefs. Magosi who unceremoniously parted ways with Mafu last season are reported to still owe the Zimbabwean some of his dues from his time as coach. During his tenure at Magosi, Mafu was known to openly criticize the Magosi management.
Despite giving a decent account of himself in the pitch during his tumultuous tenure at Chiefs, Mafu consistently decried lack of support and resources from the once mighty Kgatleng outfit. However, things seem to have changed drastically for Mafu in the last few weeks as he now finds himself at the helm of a well resourced and results orientated team and his first assignment is rather intriguing this weekend.
Nevertheless Mafu is expected to command one of the strongest technical teams in the domestic league as the experienced Daniel Nare who has been holding the fort since the unceremonious departure of Madinda Ndlovu will assist him. Moreover, Mafu will lead a talented and capable squad of Lemogang Maswena, Gift Moyo, Omaatla Kebatho, Kobamelo Kebaikanye, Olekantse Mambo and goalkeeper Mosimanegape Robert. However, Magosi will be expected to come out with all guns blazing when they meet the Ostriches in Molepolole.
Despite their difficult financial situation Magosi are still a threat. Both teams are attack minded and the game will be expected to be a fast paced affair despite Magosi coming in as the underdog. Moreover Magosi retain a healthy mixture of both experience and youth. Goalkeeper Noah Maposa is the most experienced player followed by defensive midfielder Lawrence Majawa. There is also team captain Thato Kebue, Thato Ogopotse, Lesego Galenamotlhale, Lesego Lubinda and Thatayaone Ramatlapeng to mention a few.
Meanwhile Orapa are currently on position six with 19 points while Chiefs are on position 11 with 15 points. Both teams have played 13 games. In other weekend fixtures TAFIC face Extension Gunners in Francistown, Security Systems face Jwaneng Galaxy in Lobatse, while Gilport Lions face Maun’s Sankoyo Bush Bucks in Francistown Council Stadium.
Otse Stadium will host Police XI and Gaborone United. On Sunday BDF XI face Black Forest in Molepolole while Township Rollers face Miscelleneous in Lobatse.
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.