Rollers clinch second Mascom Top 8 title

  • Kavazovic’s instructions of total onslaught worked, and Mafu finds he has to agree


Township Rollers thumped Orapa United 4-2 in an epic Mascom Top 8 final that was played at a fully packed Francistown Sports Complex on Saturday.

‘Popa,’ as Rollers are called by their legions of supporters, humbled their nemesis that denied them an opportunity to lift the cup in 2016 after the ‘Ostriches’ walloped ’Popa’ 3-1 at the same venue last year.

But over the weekend, Coach Nikola Kavazovic’s troops came with one intention – to demolish Orapa United. At the beginning of the first half, ‘Popa’ started like a house on fire, piling pressure on their opponents.

Kavazovic’s game plan was to pack the middle field and play short passes to deny Orapa U an opportunity to launch a deadly counter attack. Ofentse Nato and Maano Ditshupo were solid in the middle of the park and did not give Zimbabwean Tandai Nyumasi a chance to dictate the tempo of the game.

In the 10th minute, Rollers efforts were rewarded when Lemponye Tshireletso completed a one-two between Nato and Edwin Moalosi. Moalosi gave the premier league defending champions a 2-nil lead in the 20th minute.

Moalosi’s goal was a gift from goalkeeper Mosimangape Robert who failed to hold on the ball from the former’s header. The game went to the half time break with Rollers holding on to their 2-nil lead.

From the break, Rollers continued where they had left off and kept on attacking their opponents. Orapa U’s defence, marshalled by captain Thabang Mosige, was always caught napping and gave too much room to the rampaging Rollers strikers. In the 56th minute, substitute Bogosi Nfila, who had replaced injured Moalosi, gave Rollers a 3-nil lead.

Moalosi was rushed to hospital after he dislocated his left elbow.

As if that was not enough, another substitute, Kaone van der Westhuizen scored Mapalastina’s fourth goal from a clinical header. Orapa United got two consolation goals from Omaata Kebatho and Onkabetse Mankgantai.

Orapa suffered a huge setback when they were reduced to 10 men after Ronald Chikoma was red-carded by referee Joshua Bondo for a dangerous tackle on goalkeeper Keagile Kgosipula.

In the post-match interview, Kavazovic applauded his players for their hard work. “We faced a very tough opponent but I think scoring an early goal worked for us as they immediately lost focus,” he said. “We did our home work as we managed to analyse our opponents’ weakest and strongest points and worked on them. My players also stuck to their individual tasks that I gave them.”

Said the Ostriches head coach, Bongani Mafu: “We shot ourselves in the foot in the first half as we gifted our opponents’ two easy goals,” he said. “But I must say they attacked very aggressively. We basically let the game fly from us and we started fighting late.”