Popa vs Moyagoleele
Derby day returns to the capital this weekend as inner city rivals Township Rollers take on Gaborone United at the National Stadium.
Meetings between these two fierce rivals are typically closely contested, incident packed encounters, with the tradition expected to continue at 4 o’clock on Saturday.
Popa are currently top of the table having won their last five games in the league, including an impressive 4-1 thumping of Orapa United in a dominant display last time out.
However, just when Mapalastina’s season seemed to be gathering real momentum, they were outclassed in their Mascom Top 8 semi-final first leg clash last Friday, losing 2-0 to an Orapa side they had beaten so easily the week before.
It was a low-energy, lacklustre performance in such a high-profile game and has left Popa’s puzzled fans wondering exactly which team will turn up on Saturday – rampant Rollers or mediocre Mapalastina!
The last time the two sides met, back in May at the end of last season, GU emerged 1-0 victors in a tight game – winning not just the three points but also pride and bragging rights for their fans.
Rollers will be desperate to avenge that defeat and go into the game knowing that a win would open up an 11-point gap over Moyagoleele, effectively ruling them out of the title race.
Similarly, the reds know that beating the blues would put them within striking distance of the top of the table, keeping their championship aspirations well and truly alive – such is the importance of Saturday’s match!
Speaking to Voice Sport, Rollers recently appointed coach, Teenage Mpote insisted that although the derby comes with its own unique pressure, his team were experienced enough to handle the occasion.
“Preparation is going well and we have no injuries. All players will be available for selection except our right-back, Simisani Mathumo who is on two yellow cards but we have other players to replace him,” revealed an upbeat Mpote, who seemed to have shrugged off the Mascom defeat.
The game will have even more meaning for Rollers new signing Edwin Olerile, the 30-year-old left-back having abandoned GU for Popa in the recently closed transfer window.
“Olerile is back from our opponents – we are still assessing him and if he is to be selected he will want to prove himself,” said Mpote
Olerile’s signing bolsters an already formidable defence, with Rollers conceding just two goals in their last six games.
Meanwhile, Moyagoleele Mentor Rodolph Zapata said the morale of his players was high and they were cautiously looking forward to what he expects will be a tough game.
Zapta added that since Mpote replaced Mark Harrison as Rollers coach at the start of the year, he has noticed an obvious change in Popa’s style of play.
“We saw a different Rollers when they were playing in the league and defeated Orapa United 4-1. Then the next weekend they lost 2-0 to the same team in a cup game. This is confusing as far as preparations are concerned but we will just stick to our game plan,” said the Argentine.
When asked how he intends to approach the fixture, Zapta replied, “This will be a big game and players must come to the party and give supporters a mouth-watering match on the day.”
Should the game live up to its billing then fans will undoubtedly get the mouth-watering football feast Zapta craves.