A royal upset

George Moore
UP FOR THE CUP: City Kings held on for a famous win

City Kings stun Lemela Mangwe in cup cracker

Gumare minnows, City Kings put in a majestic performance to progress to the next round of the Orange FA Cup on Saturday, edging a five goal thriller to send First Division North side, Makungulupeswa packing.

It continues the remarkable rise of a club only founded two years ago.

In that time, the impressive outfit has won the Nhabe Region’s Division One Gumare stream, triumphed in the regional play-offs and qualified for last season’s First Division shootout in Francistown.

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While they came up short in the second city, losing all three of their matches, including a 2-1 defeat to eventual winners Makungulupeswa, ‘Amahot’ have recovered well.

A royal upset
Match stats

Unbeaten so far this season, and now under the tuition of former Dukwi Coach, Casper Elijah, who joined last month, they currently sit 3rd in the league, six points off top-placed Red Stars with a game in hand.

Seven months on from their slip-up in Ghetto, City Kings found themselves back in Kalanga land, this time in Nshakazhogwe to take on Lemela Mangwe as both teams made their bow in Botswana’s biggest cup competition.

After their play-off success, Makungulupeswa have struggled in the second tier and sit bottom of a tightly-contested 12-team log, in which just four points separates them from 6th placed Santa Green.

Keen for a cup run to boost morale, the home fans turned up in large numbers, confident of a rare win against lower league opposition.

They left entertained but disappointed, their heroes sent crashing out of the cup by an inspired City Kings.

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Ultimately, it was Kings’ midfielder, man-of-the-match Kebareng Baikisi, who proved the difference, the lanky left-footer stunning the hosts with two almost identical long-range free-kicks.

Home keeper, Bonno Ngisi, will feel he should have done better with both.

There seemed little immediate danger when Kings won a foul on the right side of the pitch, closer to the touchline than the box.

Expecting a cross, Ngisi was caught cold, the young shot-stopper unable to reach the ball as he desperately scrambled back to his posts.

Baikisi repeated the trick in the 38th minute, looping another set-piece from distance over the goalie and into the net.

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To their credit, Makungulupeswa fought back well, halving the deficit on the stroke of half-time, front man, Morgan Dick firing the ball in from close range.

The comeback proved short-lived, Kings restoring their two-goal cushion less than 30 seconds after the interval, Gosaitse Manuel left criminally unmarked in the middle to tap home a sweeping move.

Again, Makungulupeswa reacted well to the body-blow, substitute Onkgolotse Maridi breathing extra life into the already lively contest with a fine strike in the 74th minute.

Although they had just over a quarter-of-an-hour to find an equalizer and take the game to penalties, Coach Jacob Thubu’s men couldn’t quite force a third.

They came agonizingly close, however, striker Tuelo Ngisi seeing his firm header headed off the line in a frantic ending to the match.

With Makungulupeswa in all out attack mode, Kings looked dangerous on the counter, but were denied by three spectacular Ngisi saves.

The keeper’s late heroics were not enough to save his team from an early exit. Their cup dreams dashed at the first hurdle, Lemela Mangwe must now focus all their energies on survival, starting with a huge bottom-of-the-table clash against Peacemakers on Saturday.

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For City Kings, the 750km journey back home was eased by tantalising thoughts of who they might get in the next round. Already assured of a P20, 000 pay-day, the magic of the cup is well and truly alive in Gumare!

HOW THEY SAW IT:

A royal upset
JACOB THUBU

“Eish, we lost at home, as usual. We conceded three soft goals, two free-kicks from far and then switched off for the third. Maybe it’s a blessing so that we can focus on the league and try and save our team. All in all, my boys played well, it was just a few moments where we made mistakes and the opposition capitalized.”

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“We prepared well for this game, it’s just that we missed a lot of chances; we could have killed the game long before the end. My boys fought like lions, we are playing in a lower division but you could not tell.

A royal upset
CASPER ELIJAH

We look forward to the draw for the next round; hopefully we’ll get a big team coming back to Gumare.”

 

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