There was little love on show between mining brothers Jwaneng Galaxy and Orapa United during their Mascom Top8 semi-final first-leg on Sunday, with players involved in a mass on-field brawl midway through the second half.
The unseemly scuffle overshadowed what was a high-quality affair and ultimately ended finely poised at 1-1.
Although it was not clear what sparked the scrap – with neither manager wanting to talk about it after the game – it appears Galaxy players took exception to ‘an item’ left in the Orapa goal.
To add to the confusion, the referee appeared to show Galaxy striker Tebogo Sembowa a red card for his part in the melee only to seemingly change his mind and reverse his decision.
As for the action, Jwaneng broke the deadlock in the 19th minute thanks to a thunderous strike from Lesenya Malepela. The shot took a deflection on the way, wrong footing Lesenya Malepela in the Orapa goal and sending the home supporters wild.
However, the lead lasted just five minutes with the Ostriches forcing an equalizer through Lawrence Ndunga.
That brought an early end to the scoring, with both teams creating, but unable to convert, numerous chances in a frenetic second-half.
It mans that the defending champions will have to get a result in Orapa if they are to become the first side to retain the Mascom Top8 title in the tournament’s nine-year history.
Speaking to Voice Sport after the game, Galaxy gaffer Miguel Da Costa admitted there was little to choose between the two sides.
“The two teams have quality and they play good football hence you could not know who was going to win. We made a few mistakes and we were little bit better than Orapa United, we were just unlucky to come up with a draw,” was the Portuguese tactician’s assessment of the match.
For his part, Orapa United coach Mogomotsi Mpote said he was extremely happy to leave Jwaneng with a 1-1 draw.
“It was difficult to play Galaxy because they are a good side but our plan went very well. We wanted a goal to take home and it happened. Now we are going to attack Galaxy at home and see what happens,” revealed Mpote confidently.
The return leg is set for Saturday 8 February.