Eleven Angels emerged victorious in the battle of the Premier League’s northern new boys on Saturday, nicking all three points in a 1-0 win over Nico United at the Old Francistown Stadium.
The result was Angels’ fifth straight victory in the league as Seemo Mpatane’s free-flowing side continue to impress in their fairytale first season in the top flight.
Going into the campaign, many expected Mpatane’s minnows to struggle, with the majority predicting an immediate return to the First Division North. They were very much mistaken!
Currently sitting 7th in the league, 16 points clear of the drop zone with 10 games left to play, barring an unlikely disaster, Angels will be playing Premier League football again next year.
Working on a shoestring budget with a squad boasting precious little Premier League experience, Mpatane likened his side’s success this season to a minor miracle.
“With all the inexperienced players, we got into the league with no source of income. To survive on its own when the league began was considered a miracle; it is the greatest achievement we have ever accomplished,” declared the youthful tactician after Angels’ latest triumph, played out in front of another big crowd in the second city.
When the two teams met for the corresponding fixture back in December, they ground out a 0-0 draw. Another close encounter was anticipated in Ghetto and so it proved, the game settled by a single moment of magic.
The points were sealed thanks to a clinical 35th minute strike from the in-form Eric Ookame, the young striker, who turned 22 on Monday, finishing expertly after being picked out by skipper, Bakang Mpatane’s perfect pass.
The duo linked up well all game and looked dangerous throughout, causing the Baby Jombies’ defence countless problems.
Having been second best in the first half, Raizor Tsatsilebe’s troops were vastly improved after the break, with Kelvin Ndebele particularly menacing in midfield.
Displaying the same intensity that saw them beat BDF XI 2-0 in their last outing before the international break, Nico dominated the second 45 as the boys from Phikwe pushed for a point.
However, try as they might, last year’s Division One North Champions couldn’t find a way past the excellent Emmanuel Keiditswe in the Angels’ net, the lanky shot-stopper pulling off several super saves to preserve his clean sheet – Lekgamu la Bananyana’s seventh of the season.
Despite the loss, Tsatsilebe, whose team are seven points clear of danger, remained upbeat, noting his side played well and deserved at least a draw.
“The only problem is we missed chances to score. It was not our day, and if you do not take advantage of your opportunities, the other side will punish you. Eleven Angels weren’t that good; they just caught us off guard,” reasoned Tsatsilebe, whose side host Masitaoka on Wednesday.
Next up for Mpatane’s high-flying Angels is a tricky trip down south to Otse later today (Tuesday 4 March), where 8th placed Police XI, will be hoping to arrest their progress. Having won four of the last five, matches, the cops are on a decent run of form themselves; it should make for another cracking addition to Angels’ miraculous story!