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Ostriches moment of truth

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Ostriches moment of truth
READY FOR ACTION: Mudzadzi and Ndlovu

Spying Madinda wary of Swallows foreign legion Debswana boost Orapa United with P1.5 million

Continental football returns to the second capital on Saturday night.

Mascom Top 8 defending Champions Orapa United host Swaziland side Mbabane Swallows under flood lights at the Francistown Sports Complex for their maiden appearance in the CAF Confederations Cup.

Madinda Ndlovu’s side will welcome the high-flying red and white glamour boys of Swazi football in the first leg of the preliminary round while the second leg will be played on 18th February at the famous Somhlolo National Stadium.

The Ostriches come into the match high on confidence after defeating their voodoo side Township Rollers a fortnight ago in Francistown.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday morning, Ndlovu admitted they know very little about their weekend opponents.

“After our dismal performance against Rollers in Gaborone, I went to Mbabane to spy on them. They were playing in a cup semi-final and whatever I gathered there was used to prepare my boys for the battle,” he said.

Ndlovu revealed that although the Orapa executive has not given him any targets in the CAF competition, he is optimistic he can take the Ostriches far.

“We are an ambitious side – at times it’s this ambition which makes us ruthless. We want to win everything, and as the technical team we have our own targets,” he said.

The Zimbabwean’s words were echoed by Orapa Vice Chairman, Kennekae Nkape, who expressed a deep desire to leave a mark in cup competitions.

While both the coach and Vice Chairman claim to know very little about the weekend opponents, Swallows are no pushovers. The undoubted kings of Swazi football, the Mbabane-based side have won almost everything on offer this season.

According to media reports in Swaziland, Swallows have won SMVAF Ingwenyama Cup crown after beating Young Buffaloes 1-0 on Sunday where they pocketed E1.2million (roughly P938, 000).

They also clinched both the Castle Premier Challenge and the MTN Premier League E300 000 first round incentive following their impressive league run which saw them win 16 matches in a row – scoring 44 goals and conceding just 7 in the process!

Swallows are just a single point away from being crowned league champions with six matches still remaining to set a new Swaziland record.

The glamour boys of Swaziland are known to use their financial muscle to lure the best talent to their side.

They also take advantage of the foreign quota of five players to attract foreign talent and currently have on their books two players from DR Congo, two Zimbabweans and one South African – all described as deadly by Swazi media.

Swallows will leave on the 860km road trip to Francistown on Thursday and are expected to arrive in the Ghetto in the evening.

Despite the daunting task ahead, Orapa United and Debswana management appear unfazed and believe they have done enough to clip Swallows’ wings on Saturday night.

Speaking on Wednesday morning, where Debswana unveiled a P1.5 million sponsorship, Club Chairman Thatayaone Sithole explained his committee had four goals they were chasing.

“We want to achieve supremacy in football, be financially independent, create a conducive environment for football and achieve a good stakeholder relationship.

“Participation in continental football has always been part of the strategy since we decided to form one football team in Orapa,” he continued.

Ostriches moment of truth
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Sithole said their target was to win one cup and venture into Africa. “And we did exactly that!”

The outspoken Chairman said in their quest to qualify for Africa’s club competitions they humbled some teams deemed unbeatable.

“Today very few teams smile when they go through Orapa gates,” grinned the bullish Sithole.

“Who can ever forget the magical night of the Mascom Top 8 final? Who’ll ever forget the coach’s celebration,” he added.

The chairman challenged his players to give it their best shot, noting the fixture presents them with an opportunity to market themselves in front of talent scouts expected to be in attendance.

“It is very expensive to participate in this competition. We have paid over P650 000 for this first leg and this calls for you as players to grab this opportunity with both hands. Go out there and shine, people are out there waiting to pay you for your talent,” he said.

The OLDM General Manager Bakani Motlhabani reiterated the chairman’s sentiments and urged players to hoist the national flag and Debswana name high.

“When we built this team, we were dreaming of high profile matches like this one – it is the moment of truth,” said Motlhabani, excitement etched all over his face.

Whatever the result, come Saturday history will be made as Orapa venture into continental football for the first time in their short history – fireworks are expected!