Galaxy Pay the Penalty

George Moore
GHETTO PAIN: Galaxy are down but not yet out

Missed chances cost Jwaneng dear

How quickly fortunes can change in football!

In Morocco three months ago, Thabang Sesinyi was the man of the moment, firing Jwaneng Galaxy to a famous win over Wydad Casablanca with the game’s only goal: an ice cold chip that sailed over goalkeeper, Youssef el Motie.

In Francistown on Saturday, the giant goalie had his revenge, saving Sesiniyi’s tame 54th minute penalty as the North Africans held on in the heat to keep their CAF Champions League hopes alive.

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The striker’s soft spot kick capped a day of near misses for Galaxy, a day in which Botswana’s best outplayed the three-time champions of Africa but ultimately finished with nothing.

It leaves Galaxy teetering on the brink of elimination.

Going into the crunch Group B clash, Coach Morena Ramoreboli challenged his side to seize the day, noting a historic place in the quarter-finals of Africa’s elite club competition was within their grasp.

Galaxy Pay the Penalty
Group standing

Ramoreboli issued the same war-cry in the build-up to Galaxy’s previous CAF encounters at the Obed Itani Chilume stadium, urging his team to take control when they went up against Simba FC and ASEC Mimosas.

While they failed to truly assert themselves on those occasions, the Gala Nation were excellent at the weekend, playing with purpose and energy as they took the attack to their illustrious opponents in brutal conditions.

On a day in which the Ghetto sun slipped passed the 40 degree mark, Galaxy were let down by lukewarm finishing.

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The tone was set in the opening 15 minutes, defender, Lesego Keredilwe heading two decent openings well wide of the goal, before midfielder, Nqobizitha Masuku made a similar mess with his effort.

At the other end, it took Wydad 35 minutes to register a shot, defender Amine Aboulfath flashing his header narrowly over the bar.

It was a warning the home side failed to heed.

Deep into two minutes added-on time, the Moroccans struck with what proved to be the last touch of the half and the sole goal of the game.

Awarded a free kick just inside opposition territory, Saif-Eddine Bouhra floated an innocuous looking cross into the box. Completely unmarked in the heart of the danger area, Badr Gaddarine could hardly believe his luck, the defender giving Galaxy gloveman, Goitseone Phoko no chance with his firm header.

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For a defence that had kept seven clean sheets in a row since the turn of the year, it was an inexplicable lapse in concentration at such a crucial stage of the game.

Wydad never managed another shot on target; in the end, they didn’t need to.

Hunting an equalizer, Galaxy’s golden chance came nine minutes after the restart, Daniel Msendami sent flying by el Motie when through on goal, leaving the referee with no option but to award a penalty.

Assuming responsibility from the spot, fresh from a hat-trick against Holy Ghost less than a week earlier, Galaxy’s star man, Sesinyi stepped up.

The 31-year-old, who scored in the shootout against Orlando Pirates earlier in the tournament (but only just!), was undone by his slow, stuttering run-up. Jogging casually to the ball, in the style favoured by many modern footballers, Sesinyi trickled his timid pen too close to the grateful goalkeeper.

Despite the devastating setback, Galaxy kept going, bossing the ball and pinning Wydad deep inside their own half.

They came closest through Rudath Wendell, the Namibian’s goal bound effort brilliantly headed off the line with el Motie beaten.

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Having given it their all, the Galaxy players, who have now failed to score in their last four Champions League matches, dropped to the floor in exhausted despair at the final whistle.

They will have to pick themselves up immediately, departing for Tanzania on Tuesday ahead of their last group game against Simba at the weekend.

Although their destiny is no longer in their control, Galaxy can still progress to the last eight with victory in Dar es Salaam. This, coupled with Mimosas winning away at Wydad, would see Galaxy qualify for the quarter finals.

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The African adventure is still alive, and, us we already know, fortunes can change quickly in football!

HOW THEY SAW IT:

“We were the better team. I think we played one of our best games today. Our tactics were spot-on, as was our physicality and mental strength.

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MORENA RAMOREBOLI

We just couldn’t put the ball in the net. We had opportunities to finish the game, missed a penalty and wasted several good chances. We conceded at a critical phase, switching off when we needed to be alert. Lady luck was not with us today, but that can happen in football!”

“Playing in the middle of the afternoon with such high temperatures is crazy. It was too hot for both teams. To improve our football in Africa, we need to play in better conditions, especially in the Champions League!

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FAOUZI BENZARTI

We scored at the perfect time. In the 2nd half we played deeper and closed out the game. The most important thing is we won, which gives us a chance of qualifying in the last game.”

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