Rollers’ was a Pyrrhic victory over Al Merrikh?

  • Tight schedule that entails much travelling has team worried about wear and tear

Tlotlo Kebinakgabo

Township Rollers spokesman Phempheretlhe Pheto says their upcoming schedule is likely to disturb their goal of winning the Mascom Top 8 final and making it to the group stages of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) championships.

This follows Rollers qualification to the second round of CAF Champions preliminaries league after they defeated Al Merrikh 4-2 on aggregate.

‘Popa,’ as Rollers are more popularly known, arrived back in Gaborone on Thursday last week from their tier against Al Merrikh which was played in Sudan. They clashed with BDF XI yesterday (Monday) in Week 20 of the BTC premiership and are scheduled to lock horns with Orapa United this Saturday in the Mascom Top 8 tournament final.

The wing-footed schedule of the defending champions of the BTC premiership will then travel to Tanzania on Sunday morning for their CAF Championship League second round preliminaries encounter with Young Africans on March 6.

Pheto told Global Sport: “We wrote to the Premier League and requested for the Mascom Top 8 final to be played this Friday or for it to be played in Gaborone on Saturday. Our last option was for it to be played on March 10 but all our requests proved futile because we have been told that the final has been moved from 8pm to 3.30pm on Saturday in Francistown.

“You might have expected our football administrators to understand our circumstances and sympathise because the Mascom Top 8 final and our CAF encounter against Young Africans are not just ordinary games. They require special preparation.”

Pheto said it would have been understandable if all games were played locally, “but then there is travelling to Tanzania on Sunday to play our game against Young Africans on Tuesday”, he noted.

“Travelling is tiring, more especially after playing a final. Our game against Young Africans is not for Rollers only but for the nation at large. I mean, if we eliminate them we go into the group stages, which is something with which to market our football. We are already the tonic of conversation after we eliminated Al Merrikh. Imagine what would happen if we did the same to Young Africans?”

But Rollers head coach Nikola Kavazovic believes his squad has what it takes to cope with the hefty schedule. “Fortunately we are used to that as we can play every three or four days in our local league,” says Kavasovic. “We have a squad that can be rotated, so we can survive. But in situations like this one, we have to know our priorities, which are CAF games and the Mascom Top 8 final. We will focus on the league after that. League encounters are just used as preparatory games as of now.”

Assistant captain Joel Mogorosi, who is currently serving a 10-match ban in local games, tends to agree: “I think the coach has a perfect plan the team,” he told Global Sport. “I think he will come up with a team that can win us the Mascom Top 8 final and help us bring good results from Tanzania.”