Orange glows again

Portia Mlilo
ACTION: Police XI in their previous encounter against Prisons XI

FA Cup makes long-awaited return

19 months after the tournament ground to a Covid-19 enforced halt, the Orange FA Cup resumes again this week, with eight teams left in the hunt for gold, glory and a P700, 000 payday.

The knockout extravaganza, now in its second edition, gets going on Friday with a quarter-final showdown between reigning Premier League champions, Jwaneng Galaxy and Notwane at the Lobatse Sport Complex.

Fresh from qualifying for the group stages of the CAF Champions League, Galaxy will be confident of reproducing their continental form on home soil as they look to replicate mining brother’s, Orapa United’s 2019 triumph in the inaugural competition.

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The excitement builds on Saturday as the only remaining second tier side left in the cup, Calendar Stars host Masitaoka at the Francistown Old Stadium.

Originally the tie would have been an all First Division clash but Majatlhaka won promotion to the elite league when the season reached its unnatural end.

On the other side of the country, Police XI take on in-form Gaborone United at the Royal Aria.

Although it’s early days, the red hot Money Machine look the real deal this year and are overwhelming favourites to arrest Police’s progress in the comp.

The last eight climaxes on Sunday as last season’s beaten finalists, Township Rollers meet Botswana Railway Highlanders.

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Outplayed 3-0 by a rampant Orapa United in the 2019 final, Popa, who needed an 89th minute goal to see off Sua Flamingoes in the last round, have unfinished business in this tournament.

Botswana Football Association (BFA) Competition Manager, Setete Phuthego said the teams will be allowed to use the players they registered at the just ended window.

He stressed Covid-19 protocols remain in place, with attendances limited to 50 percent of the stadium’s capacity.

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Those wanting to attend games must have proof that they are fully vaccinated or alternatively have tested negative for Coronavirus 48 hours prior to kick-off.

“We want tickets to be sold online so that spectators can buy them in advance to avoid congestions at the stadium entrance. We expect Season 2 to come to an end on the 18th of December so that we can be able to prepare and pave the way for Season 3, which will take place at the beginning of 2022,” revealed Phuthego.

For his part, Orange Botswana Chief Marketing Officer, Yves Famien said this cup is a true display of talent, regardless of the teams’ popularity or experience.

He noted sport is increasingly becoming a key player in Botswana’s economic diversification dream.

“Orange Botswana is committed to doing more in the football space through this sponsorship asset and the return of Orange FA Cup is the realisation of that passion. We are committed to supporting this passion and we are excited for the thrilling Season 2 quarter-finals of the Orange FA Cup. This is an incredibly exciting time. We believe that football is not just a sport. It is a vehicle that unites people and a common language spoken and understood by all. As the economy and communities now open, albeit with the relevant safety protocols, we look forward to football bringing us all together in spirit and in heart once more,” declared a fired-up Famien.

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