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 2016/17 BTC premiership champions Township Rollers will tomorrow (Saturday) take on South African PSL giants Kaizer Chiefs at the Francistown Sports Complex.
The match is an International friendly that will see Rollers care taker coach Mogomotsi ‘Teenage’ Mpote attempt to reverse a 2-0 defeat against Steve Khompela’s charges last weekend in South Africa.The one-day season Maize Cup pre -Season friendly tournament saw Mapalastina failing to contain the might of Kaizer Chiefs, who obviously had come into the game full force.
In an interview with BG Sport this week, Rollers mouthpiece Bafana Pheto, expressed confidence that the MmMasire lads will be able to avenge their loss against the SA giants.
In a brief interview, Pheto said they lost to the South African outfit because they played the match in the absence of their key players. He is however confident that this time around, they will give their opponents a run for their money.
The soft-spoken Pheto added that the Maize Cup tournament came as a blessing in disguise. “Our friendly games against Chiefs have always been there, but the maize cup made it more interesting, that was a test drive and now we have managed to identify our weak points which will surely come in handy tomorrow,” he said.
According to Pheto, Chiefs do not pose a serious threat to them and tomorrow’s encounter will surely be used to level the scores between the two teams.Through their partnership with the multiple PSL champions, Pheto said the Blues are able to prepare fully for the new BTC premiership season that is expected to kick start sometime next month.
Meanwhile Pheto also noted that they are still processing the team’s new head coach Nikola Kavazovic’s official papers but assured that they expect him to be in action before commencement of the league.Tickets are selling at P 100 grandstand, P70 Panda and P50 elsewhere. According to Pheto they expect the Francistown Sports Complex to be full on Saturday, adding that the tournament is also aimed at quenching the thirst for football action in the northern part of the country.
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 2015/16 beMOBILE premiership champions, Township Rollers, are scheduled to face South African PSL giants, Kaizer Chiefs, in a practice match on 1st October in Johannesburg.
The game is expected to further boost the escalating Rollers brand as the local outfit continues their busy pre season schedule. However, there is a catch to this unexpected and exciting clash, as the game will be played behind closed doors as part of the next CAF Champions league preparations for both sides.
Speaking in an interview this week, Popa Popa’s mouthpiece, Bafana Pheto confirmed the pre season friendly, adding that the team is expected to leave for Johannesburg on the 1st October. “The team will probably leave early on 1st October and arrive in Johannesburg at around 11 am while kick off is expected late in the afternoon.”However, Pheto said the supporters will not be allowed to attend the match as per request by the Soweto giants.
“Kaizer Chiefs have called us for a practice match and they have requested that we do not allow fans into the game for reasons best known to them,” Pheto said. Moreover, the Popa spokesperson explained that the team’s competence and recent exhibition of quality football have earned them this golden ticket.
“We have motivated teams in the southern region to see the value of our team and we did this through our great display of good football and professionalism. In Lesotho the clubs we played recently told us they wanted to learn from the team. They did so in the end as we also benefitted from them. Thus far, both Chiefs and Rollers are subject to a football erudition,” he said.
Moreover, Pheto said they have learnt a lot from the Soweto giants in the previous years as they have previously played against each other in two CAF Champions League encounters. “We have previously learnt from their professionalism and the way they hold their affairs both in and off the field.”
Pheto added that the professional multiple champions have a great approach to the welfare of players. “It is interesting how they handle their talent, their players live collectively in their base at Naturena and that makes it easy for the management to bring about the best from them (players). Although others look at that approach as taming players, I believe it is the best way to produce a team which can work interchangeably.”
Pheto explained that their trip to South Africa serves as preparations to compete in the next CAF Champions league tournament. “We are preparing for the Champions league because whatever the outcome of the previous season we are bound to play in the competition.
As you can recall Mochudi Centre Chiefs did not participate in the ongoing edition and that means they are barred from participating in the competitions for at least two years, so whether we are the champions or not we are going to take part in the competition,” he said the game also provides an opportunity for the Soweto outfit that has been struggling in the PSL. Amakhosi who are currently under renowned coach, Steve Khompela, need this sort of practice match as they have been struggling to produce results early in the current season.
Amakhosi have since been knocked out of the 2016 MTN8 Cup by newcomers, Cape Town City and recently suffered a major loss to Bidvest Wits in the opening game of the 2016/17 ABSA Premier League. The team also struggled against rivals Platinum Stars, with the game ending in a draw.
Meanwhile, Rollers have been declared the 2015/16 premier league champions after they withdrew their appeal from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) last week. “Following this and the playoff match between Rollers and Mochudi Centre Chiefs played on 11th August, which was won 5-1 by Rollers, the BFA hereby confirms that Rollers are the 2015/16 beMOBILE premiership champions with 65 points followed by Chiefs with 62 points,” a statement from the BFA reads.
The National Disciplinary Committee (NDC) of the BFA today confirmed they have laid charges against acting Botswana Premier League Chairman Rapula Okaile.
Speaking to the media this week, the NDC Secretary, Billy Sekgororoane said they found that Okaile acted un-sportingly when he issued his letter of the 28th April 2016,instructing the acting BPL acting CEO, Kitso Kemoeng to deduct 10 points against Township Rollers.
Sekgororoane added that this conduct was grossly prejudicial to the reputation of the BFA. “The Committee therefore resolved to press charges against Okaile, which shall be laid down in a separate communication in due course.”