Resurgent Tasc could open league race wide open – Tafic legend Mlungisi Kopi worried over complacency
In 2002 Tafic Football Club hosted Tasc Football Club at the national stadium in a Francistown derby away from home.
The historic fixture was a Coca Cola Cup final pitting together two Francistown giants boasting of some of the best football talent in the country.
It was a defining moment for both clubs, Tafic eventually winning their first Coke Cup while Tasc announced their presence as one of the toughest sides in the country.
This Saturday the two Francistown giants face-off in another crucial encounter with the potential to decide both teams’ league statuses at the end of the 2016/17 season.
Tafic are on the brink of automatic promotion while Tasc are in the red, lying second from bottom with a mere 10 points from 16 matches.
It is perhaps the perfect scenario for a derby that has been losing its spark in the recent years.
Tafic would gain automatic promotion to the BTC Premier league with two matches to spare if they win their next four fixtures.
The Francistown giants are perched at the top of the northern first division league with 36 points after 16 rounds, four ahead of closest challengers BR Highlanders.
The winning streak to make automatic promotion a reality should begin ernest this Saturday in the derby.
A win for Matjiminyenga will leave them needing just nine points from their remaining five matches to return to elite football after a three year hiatus.
Elias Chinyamba’s side has a hundred percent record against Tasc this season. The sides played in the Independence Cup Final, Tafic coming out tops with a convincing 2-0 victory.
Matjimenyenga repeated the feat in the first round league fixture with the same scoreline.
It is perhaps for this reason that Tafic’s Manager Carlos Motaung was upbeat ahead of the derby on Saturday.
Motaung said Francistown football lovers should ready for a derby like no other.
“We are on the roll. We know Tasc are desperate for points, but we are also doing our own count down,” he said.
“We can’t slip now, we are aiming for automatic promotion,” said Motaung.
The Tafic Manager said the derby is perhaps their trickiest match from their remaining fixtures.
“If we go past this hurdle, we can start dreaming again,” he said.
Tasc’s Public Relations Officer Desmond Mbambanyi also told Voice Sport that they see the derby as a perfect opportunity to launch a dramatic escape from relegation.
“We want to see a Francistown team playing in the premier league, but we are not going to donate points to help Tafic gain promotion. We need the points more than they do,” said Mbambanyi.
The Tasc PRO said after a shock 2-0 win over a title chasing Motlakase Power Dynamos alst weekend, the self belief is back and players believes the win was the turning point.
“Tafic met us at the wrong time. We can’t afford to lose anymore points. We are not relegating,” he said matter of factly.
He further said despite his team missing some important players, they are ready for the match.
“Tshoganetso Bulowe is still suspended, while Smarts Mokhuhlani and Tony Montlenyane who are both soldiers are away on duty, ” Mbambanyi said.
Voice Sport reached out to two veterans who know everything about the Francistown derby.
Both Mlungisi Kopi and Mareko Babalelo were key players when the Francistown giants met in the 2002 Coke Cup final.
At the time, the two clubs had the best players in the country.
Tafic had the enigmatic and electrifying keeper Crispen Nyamutambu, Jomo Mosweu and skipper Mlungisi Kopi. The Tango Boys as Tasc are known had the enterprising midfielder Tebogo Mothusi, Mothusi Seditse and Mareko Pabalelo.
It was a match attended by thousands of fans who drove all the way while others boarded the Blue Train from Francistown.
Kopi said during his playing days a derbie was always something to look forward to.
“Every player wanted to be in the starting line-up. The atmosphere changed even at training. Supporters would that week attend training to watch us prepare for the biggest fixture in the league,” recalled Kopi.
The former Tafic captain who’s currently at Sharps Electrical with Pio Paul told Voice Sport that he is worried that his former club may be complacent following their recent winning streak.
“It will be a terrible mistake should they undermine Tasc. I’ve seen this happen before. This will probably be Tafic’s toughest match this season,” warned Kopi.
Pabalelo also anticipates a tactical and nervy match as both teams try their best to collect the crucial three points.
“One thing that I’m sure of is we are going to see a record number of spectators. This is one of those derbies where every supporter want to bear witness,” said Pabalelo.
It is a fixture not to be missed.
A fight for the bragging rights of the city, and perhaps a final judgment on who’s promoted to the premier league and who’s relegated to second division.
Kickoff is 15:30.