Return of the king-fisher

Kabelo Dipholo
RED HOT: Orapa are the leagues form team

Rollers to unleash Mbatshi and Siyanda in Orapa

Township Rollers are racing against time to sort out documents for their latest acquisition, Siyanda Ngubo, 26, ahead of their crucial Saturday fixture against arch-nemesis, Orapa United.

The Gaborone powerhouse announced the arrival of the exciting South African striker on Friday, alongside another attacking player, Mbatshi Elias, 27, freshly signed from the Ostritches.

“Elias is ready, and it’s up to the coach to unleash him,” revealed the club’s Public Relations Officer (PRO), Phempherethe Pheto when speaking to Voice Sport on Wednesday.

Kingfisher, as Elias is popularly known, had been pushing for a move away from Boteti for a while, going AWOL from Orapa at least twice in the last two seasons.

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The former Tafic star was recruited to sort out Rollers’ woes in front of goal and bolster a strike force that has managed 21 goals in 14 outings – 13 less than leader’s Gaborone United.

“We’ve been creating a lot of good chances, but failing to convert them. That is why we brought in Elias and Ngubo,” Pheto said.

The Popa mouthpiece added that while they are happy with Elias’ progress, their concern is now with Ngubo’s work permit, which is yet to be issued.

Return of the king-fisher
NEW DAWN: Mbatshi ‘Kingfisher’ Elias

“We hope it will be ready this week. It would give our coach more options,” he said.

Ngubo, a product of Orlando Pirates development systems, signed a one-year contract for Iraqi First Division side, Al-Sinaat in October 2021.

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He was released at the end of the year and has been a free agent ever since. The striker was capped once at senior level for Bafana Bafana but has played 10 times for the National U/20 side.

The pacey attacker should add more firepower to Rollers’ misfiring frontline, and a good option for Coach, Sergio Traguil.

“The new signings have brought excitement to the fans, and improved the general morale in camp,” Pheto told Voice Sport.

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The Gaborone West giants go into the match on the back of a straightforward 2-0 win over struggling Holy Ghosts, the result much-needed after three consecutive draws.

Currently fourth in the log, victory at the Itekeng Stadium would see Mapalastina close the gap to third-placed Orapa to three points

“There’s a huge rivalry between us and Orapa, probably because we’ve met a couple of times in cup finals and semis, and I expect another exciting match this weekend,” admitted Pheto, stressing he fully expects his side to leave the Ostriches’ den with all three points.

Return of the king-fisher
Last four league meetings

“We’re playing catch-up, but there has been a significant improvement in the way we are playing, so I’m positive!” he concluded.

Equally confident about collecting maximum points was Ostriches spokesperson, Emmanuel Seiphetho, who bullishly told Voice Sport they were not too worried about the threat posed by their former player.

“Elias is a very good player, but he hasn’t played for us in a long time; his presence on the pitch won’t affect us in any way!” maintained a dismissive Seiphetho.

The PRO can be excused for sounding confident.

The red-hot Oranges are the league’s form team, winning six on the bounce and nine of their last ten games, the only slip-up a 2-1 defeat at home to Sua Flamingoes back in mid-December.

Their sights are now set firmly on the top of the table, where GU are in touching distance just three points away.

Coach Tawurai Mangwiro’s men could finish the weekend in second spot should Jwaneng Galaxy drop points in their match against Prisons XI.

The 53-year old Zimbabwean tactician joined the team after former coach, Teenage Mpote was appointed national team boss.

Mangwiro’s CV makes for impressive reading.

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He is the former Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) Technical Director and was part of the technical team when Monomotapa FC reached the group stages of the CAF Champions League in 2008, a feat he achieved while doubling as Zimbabwe U/17 boys coach and also leading the U/20’s to the COSAFA Cup.

Pindula, as he’s known, is a proven winner, bagging the Zimbabwe Premier Soccer League with Dynamos FC in 1989 and 1991 as a player.

“He’s a former school teacher and now an Elite CAF Instructor, his influence on the team is all too clear to see,” said Seipheto, whose charges picked up four points from the meetings with Popa in the previous campaign.

“We’ve not drawn any game this season, and have lost only three, so I’m convinced of maximum points on Saturday,” he concluded confidently.

Kick-off is1600hrs at Itekeng Stadium.

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