Play-off for the play-offs

Kabelo Dipholo
DEFENDING THEIR POSITION: Highlanders go into the crunch game in pole position for the play-offs

Highlanders and Chadibe’s last tango

A bloody battle is expected at the Railway Grounds on Saturday as two sides tussle for a spot in the promotional play-offs.

Second placed Mahalapye Railway Highlanders hosts third placed Chadibe Football Club, needing just a point to have a shot at a swift return to Botswana Premier League.

Their challengers from north of Francistown need maximum points to book a place in the play-off, which will be a major achievement for a team formed just eight years ago.

The teams are on 39 and 37 points respectively.

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MR gaffer Wame ‘Pepezihno’ Mokoke is well aware of the task ahead.

The young coach, whose team is yet to lose in Mahalapye, is confident that his boys will see off their opponents come Saturday.

The Mahalapye outfit, who relegated from the top league last season, have only dropped four points in the second round, losing to Sankoyo and drawing with recently crowned FDN Champions, Tafic FC.

Mokoke said they set themselves a target to collect more points than they did in the first round.

“So it is not about the match on Saturday. For us it is about achieving our target of more points,” he said cheekily.

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The former Extension Gunners coach, his players are ready to defend their turf against an ambitious side that has outscored everyone in the division.

Chadibe’s 38 goals, 10 more than Tafic, are testament to their attacking prowess.

When the two teams met in the first round in Chadibe, the hosts ran away 2-0 winners.

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“We simply can’t lose at our home ground. Our players know that. We can’t disappoint our loyal supporters,” said Moloke.

The young tactician will once again look at experienced striker Joseph Nkgoeng, and his 18-year-old strike partner Mmoloki Galetshetse for goals.

The two signed for the rail giants in January and have been instrumental in the club’s revival.

“They’ve been phenomenal. We’ve a pretty young squad which I believe will be a force to reckon with in the next two seasons,” he said.

Mokoke said bringing in a lot of youngsters from Mahalapye has increased the team’s support base.

“Now the team belongs to residents of Mahalapye who come here every weekend to watch their sons and brothers in action,” Mokoke said.

His opposing number, Joseph Banyatsi, who’s a Mahalapye native, is equally upbeat ahead of what could be his most important fixture.

Banyatsi will be looking to continue with his good record in his sixth match in charge of ‘A Bafana Ba Jabulile’.

He hasn’t lost a match yet, successfully leading his troops to a 5-0, 4-0 and 1-0 victories in his first three games in charge before draws with Tafic and Mbalakalungu FC.

“It’s do or die. We’ll leave everything on the pitch for a spot in the promotional play-offs,” he said.

“This is the time to test our players’ character and mental strength,” Banyatsi told Voice Sport.

The coach was, however, worried that his side has failed to kill matches in the last two games, conceding equalisers in the last minute twice in a row to drop four valuable points.

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The late slip-ups proved costly, meaning Chadibe now have to win against Highlanders to finish second.

Their Secretary General Modiri Mpugwa is, however, unfazed.

“BR should be wary of us. We defeated them in the first round, and we return to their backyard this weekend for battle,” was Mpungwa’s war cry ahead of the epic clash. Kick-off is 1530hrs.

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