Rollers and Chiefs clash in league’s biggest fixture
Township Rollers host Mochudi Centre Chiefs at the National Stadium on Saturday in what is widely regarded as the biggest game in domestic football in the country.
Steeped in history, it is the fixture that fans of both clubs look forward to the most, the match they covet above all others.
The two fierce rivals have dominated the local scene in recent years, claiming nine of the last ten league titles between them.
Indeed, Gaborone United’s 2008/09 triumph was the last time that either Magosi or Mapalastina failed to win the league.
However, whilst Popa’s star continues to burn bright, Chiefs, blighted by off-field problems, have faded dramatically – a point perfectly summed up by last season’s seventh placed finish.
After a slow start to this season, with just one win from their first five matches and a leaky defence that has conceded more goals than anyone else (nine), the Kgatleng giants are once again in danger of suffering a mediocre campaign.
A game against their hated adversaries could be just the tonic that Magosi coach Innocent Morapedi and his team need to revive their faltering season.
Acknowledging the deep-rooted significance of a Rollers v Chiefs encounter, Morapedi confidently predicted that his boys would cause ‘an upset’ on Saturday.
Describing the meeting as a ‘tense rivalry’, Morapedi told Voice Sport, “Rollers are good opponents, we respect them but they are not going to intimidate us.
“We want an entertaining league with competition not one team dominating. This game does not need any player but character, interest and passion that will make a player to last 90 minutes.”
Morapedi revealed he has a near full strength squad to pick from, with just club captain Lesego Galenamothale missing through suspension.
Having fallen to successive 3-1 defeats, against Miscellaneous and Black Forest, the four-time league winners desperately need to get back to winning ways if they are to mount a title challenge this season.
Magosi will take heart from the knowledge that they are the last team to beat Rollers in the league – a 3-2 victory on the 26th of November 2016.
Since then, Rollers have gone on an incredible 27 game unbeaten league run and could potentially finish the year without a single BTC Premiership loss.
The two-time defending champions have started the new season in scintillating form, ruthlessly sweeping all before them to record five wins from five.
Popa’s assistant coach, Teenage Mpote is quietly confident that his side can maintain their perfect start.
Mindful of last season’s painful loss to Magosi, Mpote told Voice Sport, “Remember last season we lost against Chiefs when their players were said to have missed training the whole week in protest and they surprised us.
“We are not going to take them for granted and expect an easy game based on their performance so far. Anything can happen in a game of football and who knows they might come as a better side and upset us. We have trained thoroughly for this game and ready to face them.”
Rollers will be without top scorer Joel Mogorosi, who was stretchered off in Sunday’s bad tempered 2-0 victory over Sharps Shooting Stars. Mogorosi fractured his leg in the game and is expected to be sidelined for up to three months.
Whilst admitting that Mogorosi’s absence was a blow to his side, Mpote is confident he has the resources to replace the veteran.
Never short of talking points, Rollers against Chiefs is one of the most eagerly anticipated encounters in local football – a must-win game for both sets of supporters!